The Property Split Headache

Divorce really ought to be a four-letter word, and to many it is, especially if they are trying to figure out how to split their assets.

There is a way to protect assets during a divorce, but it is complicated and in addition to the emotional upheaval of the event, it might not be worth the fight. This is where those who catalogued their assets in advance usually have an easier time of it.

If starting from a position behind the eight ball, then make certain a really top-notch family law attorney is on board by hiring Las Vegas family law attorneys. First class legal counsel is key in determining who is entitled to what property. An attorney knows the law and how it affects property rights. An attorney also knows when other professionals may need to lend their services, such as appraisers and accountants.

“If a spouse has a legal document called a “Power of Attorney” and had the ability to control property and finances, prior to divorce, have the lawyer revoke this authority immediately,” said Bradley J. Hofland, a Las Vegas divorce lawyer with Hofland, Beasley & Galliher.

There are many factors to consider protecting assets during a divorce, where everything owned by both parties is examined and divided or awarded to one party. Some assets are not subject to division, such as gifts, family heirlooms and personal injury awards based on pain and suffering.

Be sure to distinguish community property from separate property. The only way to properly do this is to hire a lawyer. Many times, couples argue over the value of their assets. When this occurs, it often becomes necessary to hire a professional appraiser to avoid any “he said, she said” battles.

Perhaps the most critical item of property many couples don’t immediately identify as being subject to division is retirement. In many cases, one party started a retirement fund or had a retirement benefit prior to marriage. During the marriage, the fund increased in value. “You should never try to determine what is subject to division and what is not, without the help of an experienced lawyer. A lawyer will advise you of the proper method of division and perhaps even engage the services of an actuary to assist in calculating a division,” aid Hofland.

One of the simplest and best tools to use during a divorce is a video recorder or digital camera to inventory every item of property that may be disputed. “The pictures should then be attached to the list made of items gifted prior to marriage and those given after the marriage. Do not remove anything from the home until this inventory has been completed,” said Hofland.

When the cataloging is done, then remove personal items to a safe location, not accessible by a spouse. Oftentimes, small personal or very valuable items have a tendency to “disappear” or “never exist” when parties are involved in a contentious divorce proceeding.

Once you leave items behind, they may not be there when you come back. If one spouse left voluntarily, they may go back to get their belongings. “If the locks have been changed, the locked out party has a right to call a locksmith, unless the locks were changed subsequent to a court order,” outlined Bradley J. Hofland, a Las Vegas divorce lawyer with Hofland, Beasley & Galliher.

There are many other things that divorcing parties need to be aware of when it comes to the process of splitting the marital assets. Consulting a family lawyer with extensive experience in this area is the smartest solution to a difficult problem.

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