One of the biggest mistakes people can make when planning for divorce is to develop a strategy based on things they hear from friends or what they saw in a movie instead of advice from an attorney. The wrong actions could leave you very vulnerable in a contentious divorce. Things that you do out of a desire for self-preservation could look different to the courts than they do to you.

Specifically, steps that people often take to protect their assets could often be misconstrued by the courts as an effort to hide those assets. Understanding the difference between these two actions is of critical importance as you head toward divorce.

You need to get records, not individual assets

The single biggest mistake that people make when facing an impending divorce is that they attempt to hide various assets from their ex or the courts as the divorce progresses. People might start stockpiling cash or could move valuable individual assets, such as works of art or pieces of jewelry, out of the family home and into a secure location that their spouse does not know.

Unfortunately, actually moving or hiding physical assets, as well as closing joint accounts or starting a secret account without the consent of your spouse, could get you into more trouble than you might imagine. Your ex could use so-called hidden assets as proof that you want to unlawfully influence the outcome of the asset division process.

The courts absolutely frown on those who try to hide shared assets from the asset division process. Your best option for getting a fair outcome is to focus on securing copies of all of the important financial paperwork from your marriage, including income statements, receipts for major purchases and income tax records. Those documents can build the foundation for a fair asset division process more than hiding or protecting a particular asset.

What you think of is fair and what the courts think of as fair probably aren’t the same

If you are the primary wage-earner for your family, you may think that it is unfair or unreasonable to have to split your retirement account or other valuable assets with your ex in the divorce. The truth is, the courts in Colorado will not share the same viewpoint. Trying to hide assets you don’t want to split can result in financial penalties in your divorce.

Regardless of who earned more income, the assets and debt you acquired during your marriage are very likely subject to division. That doesn’t mean you have no control or say in what happens. Sitting down to talk with an attorney about your priorities in your divorce can help you increase the chances of a positive outcome.