Divorce can be hard for anyone, but if you're a homemaker spouse, you may have a rougher time than others. Facing a business-savvy opponent with a motivation to lie and cheat, especially if your opponent handled all of your finances during marriage, can quickly overwhelm you and drive you toward an unfair settlement. As your case rolls forward, see a divorce lawyer licensed in your state and be on the lookout for dangers.
Preservation Of Support And Property Division Rights
Alimony and property division rights sound great on paper, but you generally have to assert these before the entry of an absolute divorce decree or you lose them forever. Husbands sometimes pay voluntary support without a written agreement or court order and pretend to be taking steps to divide their retirement and assets, then graciously offer to "take care" of the divorce at their own expense. After the divorce is entered, all cooperation suddenly ceases.
Hidden Income, Hidden Assets
If your husband handled all of your finances, he has an opportunity to squirrel away assets and hide income in your divorce case. He may claim to be broke and have nothing. A skilled divorce attorney will examine bank records, tax records, employment records and your expenses in an effort to determine how much money was coming in during the marriage. These same tactics can reveal previously unknown investment accounts and personal property such as boats, cars and equipment. If your husband is self-employed, analyzing your joint expenses can put a rough dollar figure on your standard of living. If you're spending $5,000 a month together without you working and without raising the balance on your credit card, you can safely assume your husband earns that much or more.
Differential Asset Values In Property Division
Two assets with the same dollar value aren't necessarily worth the same thing, as taxes can take a big bite out of items you receive in the property division. If your husband gets a stock account worth $100,000 and you get one worth $105,000, it may look like you're getting more. But if your husband's tax basis (what he paid for the stock) is $90,000 and yours is $80,000, he's only going to have to pay taxes on $10,000 in increased value while you will face taxes on $25,000. Although you don't have to pay taxes on anything you receive in a divorce-related property division, you will probably face some tax liability when you finally liquidate the asset.
"If you'll let me off the hook for alimony, I'll take over all of our debt," your husband might say. This sounds wonderful, especially since alimony is taxable and property division is not, but beware of bankruptcy. Your husband can get rid of some or all of the debts he takes on in bankruptcy and leave you on the hook for the joint debt. If you don't properly respond to his bankruptcy filing, you will have no recourse against him. Keep in mind that while your bills are generally dischargeable in bankruptcy, alimony payments aren't.