A Divorce Lawyers Top Tips to Protect Your Assets
Our divorce lawyers know the coronavirus (COVID19) lockdown is forcing families to spend virtually all of their time together due to their inability to leave the house. As a result of this, many people including family lawyers and the media, are forecasting an increase in divorce numbers when the lockdown restrictions are eventually lifted.
As specialist family solicitors in Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, Wrexham and surrounding areas we understand that people find divorces worrying for all kinds of reasons. The focus of this article however is the importance (before the financial aspects of your divorce are concluded) of protecting your assets from your spouse.
Below are several practical and legal suggestions of the ways to achieve this, although there are of course many other ways depending on your own individual case.
Change your passwords
One of the quickest and easiest tips is to change all of your online passwords.
With the world becoming increasingly digital many assets can now be accessed online. A good example of this is online banking with the majority of this now being done online via applications which are creating a purely online paperless process. Other examples (but this list is not exhaustive) include pensions, ISA and other investment online portals, your credit card, Amazon account, PayPal account, and any other online store accounts.
It is highly likely your spouse will know some if not all of these passwords which places these assets at risk during your divorce. It is therefore advisable that you change all passwords immediately in order to prevent your spouse from accessing them.
Also be sure to change the password to your private email account so that any communications from your solicitor and/or other advisers are kept confidential.
If your spouse has access to your electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptop or any other electronic device) through fingerprint or face recognition also make sure you remove those access rights immediately.
Close any joint bank accounts (or freeze them)
Joint bank or building society accounts and/or other joint investments with your spouse should also be closed or frozen as your spouse will be able to instantly withdraw money from joint accounts due to the joint access nature of them.
This is simple and can be done by contacting the bank, building society or other joint investments company and asking them to do so. They should have standard procedures in place when you advise you are getting divorced.
Get Your Financial Documentation Ready –Keep It Safe
It is important that your collect all your financial related papers and stored them in a secure safe location where they will not be accessible to others especially your spouse. Examples of such papers include bank statements, investments, pension papers, share certificates, property documentation, life insurance
You should immediately make a will if you want to ensure that your spouse does not inherit should anything happen to you before the divorce is finalised. At Freeman Jones Solicitors we offer a special Divorce Will Service whereby if you change your mind as to the content of your will within 12 months of making it will then we will amend it for you free of charge.
In some circumstances it might also be advisable to sever the joint tenancy ownership status of any properties you jointly own including the matrimonial home. Expert advice from a family lawyer should always be sought.
Prevent your spouse dissipating assets
If you suspect your spouse plans to dissipate their assets in order to defeat a potential financial claim that you make then there are legal measures you can take to stop this. An example would be if a spouse attempted to move assets to a different location.
To prevent this you can ask the court to make an order which will freeze the assets meaning they are forced to stay where they are and therefore prevents this from occurring. This can be a complex area and you should first take legal advice.
Instruct an expert family lawyer
The final measure you can take is to instruct an expert family solicitor. Seeing a solicitor early can often be quicker and cheaper than letting things get to a more advanced stage. You solicitor will be able to guide and advise you through the process and explain all stages in detail ensuring you do all you that can to protect your valuable assets.
If you wish to discuss any matters contained in this article or if your marriage has been effected in any other way by the lock down please feel free to contact one of our divorce lawyers for a free, no obligation 30 minute phone or video consultation.