by Jonathan C. Noble, Esq. 3 minute read
Protecting Your Rights Post Divorce
I often get calls from potential clients who are having problems after their divorce decree is signed by the court and entered on their divorce docket. For some reason, their ex-spouse will not cooperate regarding some aspect of their Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) or court order. I have seen cases where one party will not sign over the deed to a piece of real estate, or sign a QDRO to transfer retirement funds even though they are required to do so. If the parties cannot resolve the issue, the courts can usually order compliance. Quite often, the party who is causing the problem is also ordered to pay reasonable attorney’s fees to the other side.
Sometimes people sit on their rights for a long time after a divorce decree is entered before taking action to protect their property rights. Depending on the specific facts of the case, waiting too long to protect one’s rights may cause someone to lose valuable post-divorce property rights. I have seen cases where a party waits many years before demanding the transfer of assets, and in the meantime, the assets have “disappeared”, the ex-spouse disappears or dies, or the assets have lost value.
Do Not Wait to Transfer Assets After Divorce. Be Diligent and Move on.
The longer you wait to transfer assets, the more of a chance something will go wrong, or the asset will “disappear” or your ex-spouse will disappear. If you wait to transfer assets and the asset appreciates, unless there is language to the contrary in your MSA, there is no guarantee you will be entitled collect the appreciation in value. Therefore, the best course of action is usually to effectuate the transfer assets you are entitled to receive as soon as possible after divorce.
A Properly Drafted MSA is Important.
I can’t overstate the importance of having your legal documents drafted by a competent attorney. A Marital Settlement Agreement is not a do-it-yourself type of document for a non-lawyer to draft. In most states, an MSA is interpreted by the courts under contract principles. Unless your marital settlement agreement is properly drafted, certain provisions may not be enforceable. You don’t want to find out the hard way that you saved a few dollars drafting your own MSA only to find out you are not protected. Have an experienced family law attorney draft your MSA. It is worth every penny. Feel free to contact my office to set up a consultation. 610 256 4843. I look forward to hearing from you.