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Half of your half

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Divorce


Here is a generalized description of a scenario we often see:

A husband and wife agree that their marriage is over and want to be amicable. Before consulting with or engaging lawyers, they review their assets and debts and work out the division of their marital estate. One asset is a $500,000 cash account. They divide it equally. Then, several months pass as they process their life transition and work on other matters related to their separation before one of them hires a lawyer and files a petition.

Then, a few weeks after the petition is filed, the petitioner or the petitioner’s lawyer receives a stern letter in the mail from their counterpart (the opposing attorney). “I am informed and advised that the petitioner has a savings account containing marital funds of $250,000. My client expects 50% of that before we will agree to dissolution.”

WHAT? The race is on. Now, the petitioner has to prove the prior account balance and its division. You might assume it will be easy to show that the other side, he or she, will have their $250,000. Wrong. That money is gone. It was spent within hours of the original division. As no divorce petition had been filed at the time of the division, the claim is made that the expenditure was marital and that they are entitled to half of your remaining balance.

We see this over and over again. They won’t let go of their claim even after account records are acquired, exchanged, and scrutinized. You may think that this doesn’t make any sense, as they received their share, and now we have spent hours finding the paper trail and demonstrating the activity. Here’s the problem: They no longer have the money. They need more. And you still have your cash. You must not have needed it as badly since you could save yours.

This example illustrates why it is in your interest to hire experienced legal counsel as early as possible to help you avoid expensive and stressful scenarios like this one. It also shows that if divorce is imminent, it’s important to move forward proactively.