Divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of a person’s life. No matter how you and your spouse decided to divorce, confronting the actual legal process of ending your marriage is incredibly difficult. It’s common for an individual heading for divorce to assume that they will lose half of their property and assets to their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, and this can be difficult to process depending on the reason behind the couple’s divorce.
The reality is that divorce in Oklahoma is not as simple as dividing your assets in half and going on your way. If you want to protect your assets in the state, you must do so legally without hiding or misrepresenting any aspect of your financial disclosure. While you cannot misrepresent material financial data related to your divorce, you can take proactive steps that prevent an Oklahoma family court from penetrating your separate property.
Create an Offshore Asset Protection Trust
Most people are familiar with domestic asset protection programs, such as creating a trust and an LLC in your name. However, local courts in the US can penetrate just about any asset protection you place at the domestic level. An offshore asset protection trust, however, works differently.
Creating an offshore asset protection trust is essentially a two-step process: First, you create an international LLC that you control, and second, you place your assets in a trust under the management of an offshore trustee who will place your assets into a secure international bank. This process is complex, but working with an experienced offshore trustee and an international bank with an impeccable reputation will provide a more robust degree of protection for your business interests and other separate property than any American bank could potentially offer.
It’s best to make these arrangements before marrying, but it’s technically possible to do this at any point during your marriage. Ideally, if you intend to create an offshore asset protection trust, it is best to do so before marrying.
Another option for protecting your assets in divorce that functions at the domestic level is a prenuptial contract. Many people carry negative misconceptions about premarital contracts, including that the suggestion of a prenuptial agreement indicates a belief that the marriage is doomed to end in divorce. The reality is that prenuptial agreements inherently require spouses to communicate openly and honestly, effectively laying their respective cards on the table regarding their financial goals and expectations for their marriage.
If you intend to develop a prenuptial contract, it’s vital to ensure the contract you and your fiancée develop is comprehensive and legally enforceable. Prenuptial contracts are not enforceable when one of the signing parties is coerced, threatened, or otherwise illegally pressured to sign. Additionally, a prenuptial contract cannot include any provisions that incentivize divorce in any way or any illegal terms.
You and your spouse must work together to create your prenuptial agreement. This can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding process. Many couples who create prenuptial contracts discover that the process brought them closer together by compelling them to have difficult conversations about complex topics before starting their marriage.
Marital Property Vs. Separate Property in Oklahoma Divorce
Oklahoma upholds an equitable distribution law for divorce, meaning that when the court must rule in a divorce case, the judge overseeing the process will aim for the most equitable result possible. First, the court must differentiate between each spouse’s separate property and the couple’s marital property. Separate property generally includes anything a spouse owned before marrying, an inheritance from relatives, and gifts. Marital property includes all assets the couple obtained or earned during their marriage.
Many divorcing couples in Oklahoma explore alternative dispute resolution to avoid the time and expense required of litigation. For example, mediation can potentially allow a divorcing couple to privately negotiate property distribution for a more logical and personalized result than they would experience if a judge ruled on the issue. However, it is likely for the court to intervene in many cases, such as when divorcing spouses have children, and the court must ensure their divorce decree preserves the children’s best interests.
Invest in Reliable Legal Representation
Even if your spouse is agreeable and you believe the two of you are capable of managing a civil divorce, the reality is that you need legal representation on your side if you want to ensure the fairest possible result in property division. One of the best things you can do to protect your assets in an Oklahoma divorce is to hire an experienced divorce attorney. Whether you intend to create an offshore asset protection trust, explore alternative dispute resolution, or take your divorce case to court, the right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome. If you want to protect your assets to the highest degree possible, contact an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney with experience in asset protection as soon as possible.