When Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney – Money Problems
This is the third part of my series – When Should I Hire a Divorce Attorney. This post is about problems with money. Money problems arise in many marriages and that alone is not a reason to get a divorce. However, if the issues with money persist and lead to a breakdown of the marriage such that you have considered filing for a divorce, then it is a really good idea to hire a divorce attorney to help you.
First, money problems can come in many forms. It may be that your spouse is spending too much money. It could be that your spouse is not sharing money with you. It might be that your spouse is preventing you from access to money. It could also be that your spouse is wasting money on frivolous ventures or risky investments. Your spouse might be hiding money from you. Your spouse could have opened accounts that you are not aware exist. Perhaps your spouse is not using money for marital debt without telling you.
As you can see from the previous paragraph, the list of money problems can be long. What is common with all money problems is that one spouse has control and the other spouse does not. The lack of control is the problem.
When there is a divorce, the control problems do not get better unless you have help. Although both spouses are required to complete and file a Financial Disclosure Form, it is not uncommon for a spouse to underreport or withhold information or complete the document incorrectly. A Financial Disclosure Statement is a document in which the party completing it should report all of his or her income, assets, debts and expenses. Spouses rely on the information reported in order to arrive at a fair division of assets and debts and income.
A divorce attorney will help you get the information you need from your spouse. If your spouse is not forthcoming with the information a divorce attorney has tools to use to try and get the information. The spouse can be required to provide financial documents and answer questions under oath about their income, assets, debts and liabilities. If the attorney feels that a spouse is withholding information the attorney can request that the judge get involved to direct the spouse to comply with the requests for information. If a spouse fails to turn over documents or refuses to answer questions under oath, the spouse can be sanctioned.
If you are asking if you need an attorney to help you, the answer is, “yes”. The lack of control of your finances did not happen overnight. Some parts of your marriage developed such that one spouse had greater control of the finances and has now used the finances to his or her advantage and to your detriment. It is only human nature for the same power and control struggle over money to continue. Rather than try on your own by employing the same methods you used in the past, which did not work, do something different. Hire a divorce attorney and have the attorney seek the information that you need.
In these posts I think it is important to address both spouses. In other words, if you are the spouse that has controlled the marital funds, you may be accused of vindictiveness or wrongdoing, when in fact, you have done nothing wrong. Sometimes the person who handles the money is simply acting reasonably and responsibly. The problem may boil down to perspective. Perhaps you are thrifty and saving the future, while your spouse is a spendthrift and is constantly buying new things. Neither spouse is really right or wrong in such a situation. What is wrong, however, is a lack of agreement between two spouses.
If you are accused of overly controlling money or being vindictive the best thing you can do is be transparent. Explain your money habits and show where you keep money and how you spend it or save it.
If you have improperly used marital funds it is important for you to have legal representation. Rather than perpetuate the problem and make it worse, it is advantageous to acknowledge what was done and then correct the behavior. A judge will have greater respect for you if you can address and fix past mistakes. An experienced divorce attorney will help you. Divorce attorneys specialize in analyzing your financial affairs and then coming up with solutions to make sure that the financial aspects of divorce are fair and equitable.