If you're getting divorced for the first time, you're up against the vast unknown. Even if you've heard your divorced friends talk about their divorces, you may not remember the details. Besides, divorces are like snowflakes, each one is unique.
While getting divorced will help you get a fresh start, it can be ruinous if you don't play your cards right. Check out these secrets from our divorce attorneys to help protect your assets and your sanity during the divorce process.
1. The marital assets are fair game.
Under California's community property laws, most assets accumulated during the marriage are "marital assets" and therefore divisible, regardless of whose name is on the asset. So, if you got a separate bank account during the marriage, it's subject to division.
2. Make that big purchase before filing.
Need to make a big purchase, such as a new car? Beware, the courts issue automatic financial restraining orders that prohibit spouses from making big purchases while the divorce is pending in the court. We advise you to buy any big items before you file for divorce.
3. Gather the financial documents before filing.
If you plan to file for divorce, don't rush your thought process. You need to take your time collecting evidence before you walk out the door. Take pictures of your assets, take note of all important numbers, and copy all bank, loan, and account statements. Be prepared before you head to court.
4. Don't even think about hiding assets.
Your first instinct may be to hide assets, but that would be messing with the law. If the court discovers hidden assets, all of your credibility goes out the window. Instead, declare all assets upfront.
5. Yes, alimony is "tax deductible."
Spousal support is tax deductible for the paying spouse, however, the receiving spouse must report it as taxable income. Note: alimony is not child support, which is not taxable or tax deductible.
6. Cover your back, don't count on spousal support.
If your spouse is currently supporting you, consider freshening up your job skills before you file for divorce. Even if you're awarded spousal support, you don't want to depend too much on it, especially if your kids are school-aged, and you're not disabled or retired.