• How to Protect Your Assets When You’re Facing an Acrimonious Divorce
  • January 8, 2014
  • Law Firm: Van Den Heuvel Law Office - Grand Rapids Office
  • In October 2013, Michigan’s 51-year-old state treasurer, Andy Dillon, resigned from his position due to the publicity his recent acrimonious divorce was generating. The Democrat and former state House of Representatives speaker is seeking to protect his family’s privacy from the divorce fallout, which includes allegations by his ex-wife that Dillon assaulted her while he was in a drunken state.

    If you fear an impending hostile divorce, there are steps you can take to protect your position now.

    Managing your shared financial resources

    If you share a credit facility with your spouse, cancel or reduce the line of credit with your bank to prevent your spouse from incurring additional debt for which you will be jointly responsible. It is advisable to write to the creditor to explain that you will not be held accountable for debt that accumulates over and above the current outstanding total.

    Make a new financial start by approaching another bank to open a savings or checking account in your own name. Prior to doing this, protect your position by consulting with a lawyer about how much money you can reasonably withdraw from an existing joint account to deposit elsewhere.

    If you fear your spouse will clean out your joint account, it may be prudent to withdraw one half of those funds, but carefully document how you spend this money so that this can be presented in settlement negotiations or court proceedings.

    Protecting your valuables

    If you are concerned that your spouse may steal or destroy your personal valuables or family heirlooms, move them to a place for safekeeping. Consider using a filing cabinet in your workplace or the home of a trusted relative or friend as some good options.

    Once you have taken all of the above actions, inform your spouse that you have done so.

    Planning for the future

    A hostile divorce is going to require funds for legal proceedings, and these may be protracted. Begin identifying financial resources you can rely on to fund legal actions to protect your rights or speak with a lawyer who can help you do so. If you are the owner of real estate, you may consider taking out a second mortgage. Other options include borrowing money from family members or taking out a loan.