valentine's dayValentine’s Day is a day of romance, chocolate, and roses. Named after Saint
Valentine, Valentine’s Day has been around since the year 496 A.D, but it wasn’t until the 1300s and 1400s that the holiday became associated with courtly love. In the 1700s, the trend of greeting cards, flowers, and confectionery as gifts began. Though it’s not a public holiday in America, Valentine’s Day is still one of the most-celebrated, grossing more than $20 billion in spending a year. 

Though love is beautiful, it is also blinding. And don’t feel bad about it either, because you can’t help it. Medical Daily reported on research studies that took brain scans of people “in love,” and researchers found that, though being in love activated some regions of the brain that had been dormant, there was another effect. When researchers showed test subjects pictures of their significant other and recorded their brain activity on an MRI, the MRI showed that the frontal cortex shut down upon seeing their beloved. The frontal cortex is the part of the brain that is essential for judgment. 

Concerning news aside, you can take steps, right now, to ensure that you’re not blinded by love. We’ll talk about these legal tools, which will pick up the slack when your frontal cortex takes a vacation. 

To Whom Does This Article Apply?

This article will serve as a guide for people who are in the process of getting a divorce (or thinking about a divorce). Your frontal cortex took a vacation, but it has hopefully woken up again, and, now, you need to know how to protect your assets from your ex-beloved.

Hire a Lawyer 

Step one, get a lawyer. Every state’s laws differ on what is and isn’t marital property, and every state’s laws differ on the deadlines and processes required to get a divorce. You want to know what you’re walking into, and you can’t do that if you don’t know the law, which is complex, confusing, and ever-changing. Get a lawyer, and don’t try to go it alone. 

Identify What’s Yours

Something the lawyer can help you with is identifying what is and isn’t yours. Before you proceed with anything, you must know how much money you have and where it is. What’s in your name? Your property can include assets, mortgages, bank accounts, and more. A judge will care a lot more about a detailed financial record than he or she will about a picture of your spouse having dinner with someone else. 

Get Everything in Writing 

Courts might not be as shocked and awed at proof of your spouse cheating, but, again, what they really want to see is proof of assets. Be careful to have everything in writing, especially financial statements, documents relating to your home and business, and pretty much anything that could come up in the asset division. 

Don’t rely solely on electronic copies, either. Senior V.P. of Investments at Raymond James, Shelly Church, warns that it’s not unheard of for a vindictive spouse to change passwords on joint accounts, locking you out. Fire up the printer and get moving. 

Secure Liquid Assets

According to Church, the aforementioned financial guru, it’s also not unheard of for a spouse to take out all the money from your account and leave you penniless. If the two of you have a joint account, set up an account in your name and move your portion of the assets to it. Do not wipe out the account. 

In addition to being a not nice thing to do, wiping out the account will make you look really bad in the eyes of the court. It will backfire on you down the road. Just move enough assets to cover your bills and living expenses until lawyers and the court get involved.

Possibly a Financial Adviser

If you can afford it, it will help to have a financial adviser in your corner, especially if you’re not good with money. Jacqueline Newman, a NYC divorce lawyer at one of the top firms in the city, said that “non-financially-savvy” spouses need to go to a financial adviser who will “understand” and “connect” with you. That way, you’re not getting taken advantage of because of your lack of knowledge.

What You Want vs. What You Need 

At the end of the day, lawyers try to reach the best settlement they can for their client. You’ll hear a lot of, “Can you live with this?” and “Can you deal with this?” from your lawyer. Settlements will not be perfect, but if you have what you need, you should accept that you won’t get everything you want. Your lawyer will get as close as he or she can, but there will have to be compromises on your end, no matter how much you hate your ex-spouse.

This guide isn’t the be-all, end-all. Divorce is a tough time, but you’re going to feel even worse if you don’t get your financial situation squared away. The emotional process will take time, but the clock is ticking when it comes to defending your finances and future.

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