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Divorce: Has your spouse made financial threats?

It's no secret that for many people divorce is the most emotionally fraught upheaval they will encounter in life. Aside from personal conflict between the spouses, matters of child custody and property division can make the divorce process even more trying. Unfortunately, these issues sometimes lead to exchanged threats between the spouses.

Threats of physical violence should always be taken very seriously, and any spouse who has been threatened with violence should seek help immediately. Other times, the threats may not be physical, but are instead of a financial nature, and that is the kind of threat we'd like to focus on today.

Maybe a spouse has ranted about how the other spouse won't get a penny of the marital property. This kind of threat is more common than people might expect. New York residents can take some steps, however, to protect themselves in the event that a soon-to-be ex has threatened to take or spend all of the marital assets.

First, keeping a record of your spouse's financial threats may prove useful when you meet with your divorce attorney. Having those details available could help establish a strategy for equitably dividing the marital property. You might want to note, then, when such threats are made.

Second, knowing the difference between a mere rant and an actual financial risk can also help you determine an appropriate divorce strategy. For example, it isn't uncommon for an angry spouse to claim that the other spouse won't get a penny of a particular bank account or a retirement fund. But unless those accounts are somehow categorized as separate property, then bank accounts and IRAs or 401(k)s can be subject to property division.

In short, it is important to try to keep a cool head. Divorce may be the hardest thing you've gone through yet, but it is possible to take legal steps toward a brighter future.

Source: Forbes, "How To Cope With Your Husband's Financial Threats During Divorce," Jeff Landers, Jan. 8, 2014

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