Your spouse filing for divorce may have been unexpected or a long time coming, but the reality of it is certainly upsetting. When the shock and confusion began to abate, you may have begun to feel fearful. What will your future be like? How will you get along financially? These questions may be especially pertinent if you sacrificed your own career to raise children and keep house while your spouse’s career flourished.
One immediate concern may be ensuring that you receive your fair share of the marital assets. In Georgia, as in many states, divorce is guided by equitable distribution laws, meaning that, with a few exceptions, all the assets acquired during your marriage are on the table for division unless stipulated in a prenuptial agreement. However, what if your spouse tries to keep those assets from you?
How to protect yourself
If your spouse is particularly angry, greedy or spiteful, you may be the victim of asset dissipation. Unlike hiding assets, a spouse who dissipates intentionally squanders money to keep it from you despite the fact that such behavior means the money is lost to both of you. Dissipating spouses have been known to suddenly make major purchases, take their secret partners on extravagant trips or give lavish gifts.
This is not just a continuation of typical overspending, but wasteful spending that began in the wake of the decision to divorce. Because your spouse has secure employment and an enviable salary, he or she may think nothing of wasting the assets to avoid giving them to you. Some steps you can take to protect yourself from asset dissipation include the following:
- Monitor your joint accounts for unbudgeted spending
- Be aware of charges to unfamiliar businesses
- Look for evidence of secret accounts or lines of credit
- Seek the assistance of a forensic accountant
- Learn how the mutual restraining order can protect you
An MRO is typically part of any divorce filing in Georgia. It requires both spouses to maintain normal, pre-divorce status of assets until the divorce proceedings are complete. Your attorney can ensure the court properly attaches this order to the divorce complaint.
Some of the factors that make it easier for a spouse to dissipate assets are having substantial funds to begin with and having complete control of the finances. If you have no involvement in the family finances, your spouse may have been able to dissipate or hide assets without your knowledge. Knowledge is the key, and this is an excellent time to educate yourself on your rights and how to protect them.