Protecting Collectibles From An Acrimonious Divorce
A person can develop a lot of anger and bitterness while going through a divorce that may cause him or her to lash out at the soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can result in the loss of valuable or sentimental items that the person spent a lot of years and money acquiring. For example, a woman acquired her ex-husband's video game collection in a divorce and sold it for much less than it was worth to get back at the man. If you want to avoid the same thing happening to your collectibles, use the following tips.
Draw Up a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that details the terms of marriage prior to both parties going through with the union. While a prenuptial agreement can address almost any issue, the majority of contracts focus on the division of property and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. If you want to keep your spouse from being awarded your collectibles when you separate, drawing up a prenup agreement addressing the issue would be the first place to start.
Even if you're already married, you can still have this type of contract drawn up between you and your spouse. In this case, it would be called an postnuptial and may be a little more complex to implement depending on how long you've been married and whether the assets you want to protect are considered separate or marital property.
In either case, it's essential that you work with an attorney when drawing up the agreement to ensure it is legally binding. It's not unusual for a judge to throw out a prenuptial agreement because it was worded poorly or addressed issues that can only be resolved by a court (e.g. child support payments, child custody).
Do Not Buy Your Collectibles with Mixed Money
Even if you don't have a prenuptial agreement, you can still prevent your soon-to-be ex-spouse from getting your collectibles by maintaining the assets' separate property classification. Separate property is assets that belong to one spouse, while community or marital property is assets that belong to both spouses. In general, any assets the spouse owned prior to getting married is considered separate property, while assets acquired after the marriage are considered community property.
Unfortunately, if you're not careful, your separate property can be ruled community property in a divorce. This can happen if you purchase items for your collection using comingled funds. For example, you buy video games with money from a joint checking account. Your ex-spouse could argue that since you used some of his or her money to enhance the collection, he or she has a claim to it.
A judge may also award your ex-spouse a portion of the collection (or equivalent value) if he or she added to it in some way. For instance, your wife spends time searching for and buying snow globes to add to your collection of kitsch. This investment in time and money may entitle her to some of the equity in the asset, especially if she spent her own money and her contributions increased the overall value of the collection.
To avoid either of these scenarios, only use your money to buy pieces for the collection. If your spouse is interested in contributing to it, then you'll need to come to an agreement (preferably written) about what happens to the collection should you get a divorce.
Relocate the Asset
If you feel your marriage is headed towards divorce (or you've already entered that stage) and you think your collection is at risk of being damaged or sold off by your spouse, it may be prudent to move it to a safe place until the proceedings end. Be careful and consult with your attorney before doing so. Moving an asset can be seen as an attempt to hide it, and a judge may penalize you by dividing the asset between you and your spouse or taking it away altogether. Make sure you list the collection as part of your assets and be very clear about your reasons for relocating it to avoid accusations of impropriety.
For more tips on protecting your valuable collection during divorce, contact a divorce attorney near you, which you can do by visiting a site like http://www.glfamilylaw.com.