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Can I Change the Locks On My House During a Divorce?

Can I Change the Locks On My House During a Divorce?

The marital home is one of the most valuable assets you have to divide during a divorce, and subsequently it can be the most difficult one to divide. There are a lot of things you can and cannot do with your home during a divorce, which vary depending on a variety of factors. When a couple decides to divorce, it does not automatically mean one spouse will pack up and move out. Each spouse has probably contributed significantly to the home’s mortgage or rent payments over the years, which means each spouse has an equal right to live in the home. Unless they come to an agreement, both spouses have the right to live in the marital home until the court orders someone to move out, which usually takes a great deal of time. You may want to change the locks on your house during a divorce. However, it is never a good idea to do this without consulting your lawyer. The rules about changing the locks vary from state to state. You can file for exclusive residency of the home, which would then allow you to legally change the locks. After a spouse has filed for divorce, both parties have the right to file pendente lite motions with the court. The pendente lite motions only apply until the divorce is final. You can file a pendente lite motion for exclusive residency of the marital home by asking a judge to order your spouse to move out while your divorce is pending. Still, you’ll have to give a compelling reason for the judge to order your spouse out of...

What do preliminary financial disclosures means in a divorce?

The marital home is one of the most valuable pieces of property a couple owns, and therefore can garner a lot of conflict when it has to be divided during a divorce. One issue that could arise is that one spouse tries to or succeeds in selling the home during the divorce process. In California, assets in a marriage are considered to be community property. This means that any property acquired during a marriage has to be split evenly in case of a divorce, including the marital home. So, what happens if a spouse sells the community property home in the middle of a divorce? Once the Petition of Dissolution is filed, which begins the divorce, neither spouse can do anything with the community property, including selling it. This is because the Petition of Dissolution is filed along with a Summons, which includes orders called automatic temporary restraining orders, or ATROS. ATROS forbids both parties from disposing of or concealing any property. Therefore, selling the community property home is prohibited. The divorce process also includes documents called preliminary financial disclosures. These documents require both parties to fully disclose and be transparent about all assets and debts, including separate property. The documents include disclosure of separate property because there is often confusion about what is actually considered separate property. It is common for a party to wrongly assess what property is separate and communal, which spurs conflict. Preliminary financial disclosure prevents such conflict, and should classify the home as community property if it was acquired during the marriage. So, preliminary financial disclosures also declares that a spouse cannot sell the...

Dividing Assets in Late-in-Life Divorce

Getting a divorce late in life usually has the same causes as an early divorce, whether it be regrets, infidelity, or a desire for independence. While a divorce after 50 faces many of the same issues as a divorce when you are younger, older couples also face some unique, age-related issues as well, such as health concerns, retirement, and greater emotional impact. One of the biggest factors to consider is the fact that you will have less time to recover financially after a divorce later in life. If you are getting a divorce after 50, or are considering it, first consider division of assets like your home, retirement plan, and Social Security. When dividing assets, it is important to remember that there is more to consider than just the market value of the asset; some assets will be more useful to you later in life than they are now, such as your house. Your house could be of greater value to you at an older age for a variety of reasons. First of all, your age allows you to be eligible for real estate property tax exemptions. You could also be eligible for a reverse mortgage once you are 62 years old, which could offer additional income. In later years, you might want your house for tax benefits including mortgage interest and exclusions from gains upon sale. An older divorcee might also want to be the owner of the house so they could qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid, and have access to equity and potential rent income. Dividing retirement plans can be difficult, and it is important...
What Should You Do with Your House During a Divorce?

What Should You Do with Your House During a Divorce?

In a divorce, one of the most taxing things can be deciding how to divide up your assets. It’s important to know your states laws about property division so that you are aware of your rights. In California, assets acquired by a spouse during a divorce belong to both of them equally, and must be divided equally in court. When deciding what to do with your house, you want to take into account the valuation date, which is the date when the value of the house was established. Normally, even if one of the spouses lives off of the property during the divorce, the houses expenses are divided evenly. If the property value increases after the valuation date, the spouse who stayed on the property may receive more money from selling the house. There is a lot to consider when deciding what to do with your house in a divorce, and your best option would be to discuss it with your attorney. However, boiling the process down to a few key decisions makes it a lot easier to understand. First off, determine if either spouse wants the house, and if so, if that spouse can afford it. If the answer to both those questions is no, you can sell the house and equally divide the money. To find out if the spouse can afford to keep the house, simply write up a future budget. Next, determine if there are enough assets in the marital estate for one party to buyout the other. If not, again you should sell the house and split the money. If there are sufficient assets,...
Money, Property & Divorce

Money, Property & Divorce

Going through a divorce is a very strenuous and stressful time for a divorcing couple. While most people are thinking about child custody issues, financial matters, dividing their assets and debts, canceling credit cards and closing bank accounts, it also creates a significant need to update your estate plan. Because of the upcoming change in personal finances, assets and planning objectives, a revision of an estate plan is necessary for both spouses. Of course, there’s the fact that most spouses no longer want their ex-spouse to remain as beneficiary of his or her estate plan. Estate plans are typically comprised of wills, powers of attorney, insurance contracts, beneficiary designations, trusts, and healthcare directives, all of which you may want to revise after a divorce. It is generally a good idea to update your estate planning documents after any major life events, such as a divorce or a death in the family. Doing so ensures that information within those documents reflects any changes in the circumstances of your life or in the lives of your family members. If a married person fails to change his or her estate plan after a divorce and then dies, the possibility exists that the ex-spouse may take a share of the decedent’s estate, or may take under the terms of a beneficiary designation. While a divorce automatically terminates some of the ex-spouse’s rights, in many cases it does not. Understandably, divorce and death are not fun things to think about; however, divorce is one of the most important times to update an estate plan – or create one. Working with a qualified attorney, estate...
Divorce and Bankruptcy

Divorce and Bankruptcy

Finances and debt can get very messy during a divorce. Money is the number one stress factor in many relationships. A recent study of 4500 couples has shown that there is a very strong link between financial disagreements and divorce. Of all factors that can contribute to a divorce, money is by far the most powerful. Couples that argue over finances tend to argue more longer and more intensely, resort to harsher language, and remember the bitterness and resentment much longer, and these sort of arguments tend to dramatically reduce relationship satisfaction and increase stress on the couple and any children they may have. While this trend is true across all income levels, the risk of money arguments increases as finances dwindle, and the anger and frustration of financial arguments can become even more intense when a couple is facing bankruptcy. To further complicate matters, the anger and stress of this kind of argument makes couples less likely to collaborate on financial planning and more likely to focus on the short term instead of trying to secure their future, perpetuating a vicious cycle of money trouble, stress, and intense argument, causing the marriage to fall apart under the strain. Income, Marriage, and Bankruptcy Qualifications Both spouses are responsible for the debts incurred during the time of the marriage. Your divorce settlement will divide up the debts, assigning responsibility for some to one spouse and some to the other. But that divorce settlement is between you and your ex-spouse; it doesn’t bind the creditor, who can collect the debt from either one of you.  If your ex files for bankruptcy after the...