Building Your Financial Future
If you’re looking to start building your financial future, it’s important to keep in mind that any accounts funded during the marriage are considered marital assets. You can move the money around, but you’ll still be responsible for providing half of the total asset to your spouse or an accounting to the Court for all the funds. Therefore, it is important to plan wisely and consider all options before making any decisions.
If you are anticipating a separation, my usual expert legal advice is to take half of the money in the bank accounts and put it into an escrow account (this advice is dependent on the facts of each individual case; you should seek legal assistance prior to making any decisions to be sure it is the right decision for your situation). This account should be untouched – no withdrawals, no deposits, and no co-mingling with other funds. By keeping the money in a separate account, you can show that it is unspent and newly opened, which will be helpful if you must go to court.
I tell clients not to use an account they already have for their legal settlement funds. Instead, open a new, separate account specifically for that money. Doing this will provide evidence in court that the money has just been sitting there untouched, which means the party moving the money was not attempting to hide it from the other spouse but was just trying to make sure their portion was secured.
Understanding The Role Of Marital Debt
Debts incurred before marriage, (such as student loans or credit card debt), are not marital debts. Similarly, any debt incurred after separation is also not a shared marital debt. It is therefore important to keep track of all debts, understand the financial situation, and have all the necessary information when reporting to the court. An experienced divorce lawyer can then present the facts of your case and help you get the best possible outcome.
For the debt that was accrued during the marriage, both partners will be held responsible. This can pose a problem if the debt is only in one person’s name. For example, if a couple buys a house together, it is usually only in one person’s name or under one person’s good credit. Thus, if one partner has bad credit, the other may have to put a new car in their name. If you and your spouse are both responsible for paying off a new car, but it is only in one spouse’s name, and then one spouse doesn’t make their payments, it will affect the credit of the person that signed for the car.
I advise people in this situation to continue making their payments but to keep track of every payment they make after the separation. This way, if you must go to court, you can show the judge that you paid your share of the debt even though your ex-spouse didn’t.
Divorce & The Marital Home
It is important to remember that just because you move out of the marital home does not mean you’re giving up your equity in the property. However, if your spouse who remains in the home requests exclusive use and possession of the property at a temporary hearing, they’re likely to be granted that request since they are still living there.
If neither party can afford to move, it may be best to wait before taking any action. If a couple cannot afford to live in separate homes, the courts may recognize them as being separated under the same roof if they meet certain criteria. This includes living in different rooms within the same house, not having sexual relations, and living their own lives as much as possible. In essence, they would be like roommates who happen to share a residence. Further, according to divorce law in Virginia, if a divorced couple re-engages in sexual activity or crosses any of the other boundaries the court uses to define separate living, it resets the clock on their separation period.
The decision to remain living together during a divorce is a difficult one to make. There are many potential risks, including violence or false accusations, that need to be considered. Ultimately, every situation is different, and there is no right or wrong answer. The best thing to do is to talk to a lawyer for a divorce in Virginia to help you weigh the pros and cons of your specific situation.
For more information on Divorce Law In Virginia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (804) 835-6141 today.