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Protecting Your Assets Through a Hostile Divorce

Emotions run high during divorce actions.  As a result, sometimes a spouse may act out including physical violence, badmouthing the other spouse and destruction of personal property. When you are ending a relationship and reside with your spouse or the other spouse has made comments that lead you to believe they plan to leave, creating an inventory can be a helpful tool.  An inventory can be simple or very detailed, it could be as simple as photographing each and every room to use at a later date.  It could be as complicated as a detailed list with supporting documentation to support the inventory. The purpose of the inventory is to document community property and the condition of the items. The inventory can be a tool used to help divided personal property or in the event of lost or missing items.

If you anticipate the divorce, you should make copies of essential paperwork- birth certificates, social security documents, bank and investment statements, etc. You should also copy photographs and hard drives. You should change passwords on personal accounts. All of these things should be stored somewhere other than the joint residence for safekeeping and protection.

Believe it or not, when divorce happens, a party can be angry or bitter which results in loss of personal property and documentation. In our practice, we have had a number of cases where photographs and scrapbooks come up missing. All of the memories are gone and in some situations cannot be retrieved.

When spouses cannot decide how to divide personal property the Court is left with that duty. The Court does not want to spend considerable time dividing personal property because it is not a good use of the Court’s time. Therefore, the Court will often Order that personal property be divided through an A/B List.  In that situation, one spouse creates a complete inventory of all personal property and puts half of the property on List “A” and half of the property on List “B.” The spouse who did not create the A/B List selects whether or not they want to select List “A” or List “B.” The logic behind an A/B List is that the person who creates the list is not likely to put the personal property they want on one list or the other because the other spouse may select the list which they believe has the items the other party wants in the divorce.

These safeguard steps can save time, money and frustration in the divorce process.

Amanda Roberts is a family law practitioner in private practice since 2005. She is a partner in Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group, a Las Vegas, Nevada family law firm.