Charleston Property Division Lawyer

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Erica Lord Law Group/

Property Division Attorney in Charleston, WV

Ending a marriage can be incredibly difficult, and the outcome of a divorce is likely to influence the lives of both divorcing spouses for many years to come or even permanently. Divorce can be messy and emotional, and it’s likely for each spouse to have different goals and expectations when it comes to how their divorce unfolds. If you are preparing to end your marriage in Charleston, WV, one of the most contentious components you will likely face is property division.

Divorce is not just the end of your marriage; it is also a formal legal process of establishing separate ownership rights over the marital property you and your spouse own together. While property division under West Virginia’s equitable distribution law may seem straightforward at first, the reality is that property division can easily be the most challenging financial issue between divorcing spouses. You need legal counsel you can trust to secure a positive outcome to your property division determination in Charleston, WV.

Why Do I Need a Charleston Property Division Attorney?

West Virginia upholds an equitable distribution law for determining property division in divorce. While this law strives to ensure the fairest possible division of marital assets and debts in divorce proceedings, many divorcing spouses do not understand the complexities of this law and believe the decisions made in their cases are unfair or biased. Having an experienced Charleston property division lawyer represent you in your divorce case can provide peace of mind and help you approach the situation with confidence and understanding.

It may be technically possible to resolve your divorce and settle property division without an attorney. However, while you might assume this would be a good way to save money on legal fees, the reality is you stand to lose much more by attempting to resolve your case on your own. Your attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support in your divorce case, potentially helping you reach a much better outcome than you could have secured on your own.

If you tried to handle your divorce without legal representation, you would need to meet strict legal requirements while simultaneously managing your everyday personal and professional obligations. Divorce can be incredibly stressful and emotionally taxing in many ways, so do not make the situation harder on yourself by attempting to handle everything yourself. The right Charleston property division lawyer can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your divorce.

Understanding West Virginia’s Equitable Distribution Law

“Equitable distribution” does not necessarily mean “equal distribution.” Many divorcing couples mistakenly assume that West Virginia’s property division law means both spouses will receive completely equal shares of marital property. However, this is the way community property states operate. In an equitable distribution state, property division is designed to enable the fairest possible division of marital assets based on numerous financial factors.

The first step in resolving property division in an equitable distribution state is identifying, categorizing, and appraising the value of all assets owned by both spouses. Each divorcing spouse must submit a financial disclosure statement that includes all their financial records. If a spouse intends to claim any separate property, they must produce evidence showing the property in question qualifies as separate property. Anything owned prior to marriage, inheritance, and gifts typically qualify as separate property. All assets and property gained during the marriage by both spouses likely qualifies as marital property and would therefore be subject to division.

It’s important for divorcing spouses to remember that equitable distribution applies to debts as well as assets. Divorcing couples are expected to assume responsibility for shares of marital debt, and they must assume responsibility for separate debts that do not qualify for equitable distribution. If there are any discrepancies between the divorcing spouses’ respective financial disclosure statements, the spouses’ respective attorneys can help them resolve these issues.

Penalties for Hiding Assets

Some divorcing spouses may have difficulty reconciling the fact they must divide marital property with their spouse in divorce. Unfortunately, this causes some divorcing spouses to attempt to hide certain assets to protect them from division. Some of the most common tactics used to manipulate equitable distribution determinations include:

  • Offshoring assets in private accounts. Divorcing spouses must show accurate and complete financial transfer records to explain why and how any substantial sums of money move out of shared accounts.
  • Bogus loans. A divorcing spouse may “loan” a large sum of money to a family member or friend to reduce the total amount of property they must divide only to collect on the loan after finalizing their divorce, effectively using the loan as an asset shelter.
  • Cash siphoning. Cash can be difficult to trace. A divorcing spouse may begin periodically withdrawing small sums of cash from accounts shared with their soon-to-be ex-spouses to hide it from division.
  • Intentional wasting. Some spouses act spitefully in their divorce proceedings. If a divorcing spouse intentionally squanders marital assets, runs up credit card debt on jointly owned credit cards, or otherwise intentionally wastes marital assets the other spouse may have several options for bringing these actions to light in divorce proceedings.

If you have any reason to suspect your spouse has attempted to hide assets from their financial disclosure statement, it’s vital to consult your Charleston property division lawyer as soon as possible to address these concerns. Your legal team could consult a financial expert who can perform a deep dive into you and your spouse’s financial records to uncover any illegal hiding of assets.

When a divorcing spouse is revealed to have intentionally hid assets from their property division proceedings, they will likely face contempt of court. The judge handling the case may award the other spouse a larger share of marital property, fine the at-fault spouse, or even hold the at-fault spouse accountable for the other spouse’s legal fees in response to their actions. It is essential to be truthful in every aspect of your financial disclosure statement.

Ultimately, divorce proceedings can be very difficult to navigate, and the financial issues you face in your divorce could potentially influence the next several years of your life. If you want to approach this difficult situation with confidence, the team at the Erica Lord Law Group can assist you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Charleston property division attorney who can help you approach your case with confidence.

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