If the judge approves the motion to freeze your assets, the court will conduct a hearing on the motion which is why it is essential to be represented by experienced legal counsel from the beginning of the process. Questions considered may include:
- Is the restraining order too broad?
- Does it restrict a third party (like a business partner)?
- Does it prevent you from earning a living or paying valid expenses?
If you are a business owner, you can have your divorce lawyer request that the judge allow you to operate your business during the divorce process and submit regular accountings of income and expenses. Keep in mind that this information may become public record since it is part of the court’s file.
If the motion is approved, it will be set to span a specific time period and expire on a specific date unless it is renewed by court order. During that time, funds in a bank account (for example) can be used as they normally would – to pay bills or everyday expenses.
What can I do with my assets?
Freezing the assets means that major changes like transfers, removal of funds, closing the account cannot take place. While the account is frozen, the funds cannot be used to pay off large debts or moved to another account. If these violations occur, the responsible party can be held in contempt of court and the entire account placed under court control to prohibit any further mishandling of funds.
While the restraining order is in effect, either spouse can file a motion requesting that the court release the frozen assets. The judge also has the option to schedule a date for a follow up hearing to evaluate whether the freeze should remain in force.
Judges have wide discretion in freezing assets because they want to preserve these resources until they are ready to equitably distribute them as part of the divorce settlement. The court acts as the neutral party in preserving the marital estate.
What you don’t want to do is appear to the court as if you are hiding assets. You want to be able to ethically and legally protect your assets without violating the law. Asset protection may include establishing irrevocable trusts or family limited partnerships. A qualified attorney can refer you to a financial planner or an estate planner who can assist with asset protection.
Sauls Law Group has a team of experienced divorce lawyers ready to help you with your case. We’re happy to answer your questions about child custody, alimony and equitable property division.