Part of my brain shut off during the divorce. The logical part. Partial brain paralysis, I like to call it. After about 3 years, it started to come back to life. Thank the Lord. Unfortunately, there was about a 3 to 4 year period where I did not act logically, due to the partial brain paralysis and all.
In hindsight, we may have been able to come to an agreement in negotiations, and avoided going to court, if I had not been suffering from partial brain paralysis. But we will never know.
I think the biggest financial mistake I made as a result of my lack of logical thinking, was that I didn’t think critically about the strategy my attorney was taking during the divorce proceedings. Or lack of strategy, I should say. He spent endless amount of time (billable hours) sending letters to my ex and his attorney. The letters never did any good.
What I really needed was someone to help me understand what was reasonable, and not reasonable. What was worth fighting for, and what wasn’t. Because if I could do it all over again, I would have instructed my attorney to NOT send all those letters except for in the rare occasion where I believe a letter would help. It would have saved time, money, and stress.
I am going to give you some information here that will help you arrive at a better deal. It will help you arrive at a better deal, because it will hopefully educate you, which will in turn save you from pointless back and forth banter that simply frustrates all parties involved. Except the attorneys, because they profit from it. So, today, let’s learn about what “things” (house, money, cars, etc.) are worth claiming your 1/2 of, and what are not.
Do you assume that his small business is half yours? Or do you assume that his student loans are not your responsibility?
You should figure out what is 1/2 yours. Once you have that established, you can give your attorney better direction.
Let’s go through some tough-to-answer examples to answer the question: “Is that 1/2 mine?”
Is my husband’s bonus money he got last year 1/2 mine?
Yes, it’s half yours. Even if he put it in a savings account in his name only.
What about the money my dad gave to me a couple years ago (during the marriage)?
If your father gifted you some money that was titled only in your name, and it remained in you only in your name, it would be considered separate property.
What if that money (from the example above) was deposited in our joint checking account?
Then it become marital property.
What about the money I brought into the marriage, earned before we knew each other?
An example would be a savings account you owned before you were married and you kept it titled in your name alone. The value of the savings account at the time of the marriage will remain separate property. But, in some states, an increase in value after the marriage could be considered marital property (ask your lawyer).
My aunt left me her lake cabin, is it now considered 1/2 his?
If your aunt left you her lake cabin worth $50,000, and it’s titled in your name alone, it would be considered your separate property. But, in some states, any increase in value would be considered marital property (ask your lawyer).
The house I owned before marriage was worth $100,000, and is now worth $150,000. Which portion of it is considered 1/2 his?
The original $100,000 is still considered separate property, the the increase in value ($50,000 in this case) is marital property.
Of course, these are just general guidelines. Ask your attorney for state speciﬁc laws, but this information will get you started. It will help you to think through all your diﬀerent assets and identify which ones you may have a problem with. Limit your communication with your attorney to just those ones, because it will save you money. You won’t have to pay your lawyer to sort through ALL of your assets and paperwork, just the ones that there is an issue with.
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