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Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 08:55 am
Divorce can be an emotionally and financially difficult process. One common question that arises is whether assets accumulated during the marriage can be sold to pay for a divorce lawyer. The short answer is – it depends on the laws of your state and the specific circumstances of your situation. This article will provide an overview of some key considerations when selling marital assets to pay legal fees during a divorce.
Marital assets generally refer to any property acquired during the marriage. This includes things like the marital home, vehicles, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and personal property. The exact definition varies by state. Some states consider all assets acquired during marriage to be marital property regardless of how they are titled. Other states exclude separate property gifts and inheritances.
Marital debts, like credit cards and mortgages taken out during the marriage, are also typically divided in divorce. The division of assets and debts depends on whether you live in an “equitable distribution” or “community property” state.
In most states, you are allowed to use marital assets like bank accounts and investments to pay reasonable divorce-related legal fees. This applies to both spouses, not just the one who files first. There is usually an exception under the automatic restraining order rules that prevents selling assets during divorce.
However, it is wise to be reasonable and fair when using marital funds to pay lawyers. Using all or most of the available cash to pay your lawyer when your spouse cannot afford one could be seen as financial abuse by the court. The judge may order you to reimburse your spouse for their legal fees later.
If you need access to funds to pay your lawyer that your spouse controls, you can request temporary orders from the court for legal fee payments. The court can allocate marital funds for each spouse’s lawyer fees if one spouse has control of most of the cash.
Once one spouse files for divorce, automatic restraining orders (AROs) often prevent selling or transferring assets without agreement. This is meant to maintain the financial status quo during divorce. However, reasonable spending is still allowed.
If you are concerned about your spouse selling assets once you file for divorce, here are some steps to consider:
If your spouse does sell or transfer assets without your consent after filing for divorce, the court has remedies to ensure an equitable division of marital property.
The bottom line is that while your spouse can technically sell assets once you file for divorce, the courts have tools to ensure a fair overall division in the end. An experienced divorce lawyer can help protect your rights.
Ideally, couples should aim for an amicable settlement and equal division of marital assets and debts. Here are some tips:
If possible, try to avoid selling assets to pay legal fees during divorce. Here are some options to consider first:
Dividing marital assets equitably while funding legal fees can be challenging. Every divorce has unique circumstances legally and financially. Sit down with an experienced local divorce attorney to understand your options and protect your rights. An attorney can help you navigate this process smoothly and advise you on the laws in your jurisdiction. With proper guidance, you can achieve a fair settlement and move on with your life after divorce.
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