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October 26, 2022
Strategies a Spouse in a Superior Economic Position May Wish to Adopt

If you are contemplating filing for divorce, or you’re in the middle of a divorce and are wondering what has happened and what you are supposed to do, given the information we are receiving about economic instability on every front, here is what you need to know.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with a skilled attorney about a family law case, contact Hartley Law, APLC today at 805-919-8346.

Transcript:
You are contemplating filing for divorce, or you’re in the middle of a divorce, and you are wondering, what has happened and what you are supposed to do, given the information we are receiving about economic instability on every front. We’re hearing that there is a housing bubble that is due for a crash at any moment. We’re hearing, and day-to-day hearing, about the swan dive that stocks and cryptocurrencies are taking. If you have these asset classes, you need to know what to do.

My name is Carla Hartley. I’m an attorney licensed to practice in Texas and California, and I’ve been practicing primarily in the area of family law, and certain related areas of law—elder abuse, conservatorship, guardianship—my entire career.

I am on the Family Law Board of Ventura County California, and I am on the Ventura County Bar Association Board as well.

Financial Strategies in a Divorce

We are at a time of tremendous economic upheaval in this country. We have what is purported to be a tremendous bubble with regard to housing prices across the country, and that is that is tending to soften. And we also have a variety of asset classes—stocks and cryptocurrencies and a number of other types of investments—that are just in a swan dive right now.

So, you’re looking at this, do you go ahead and file for dissolution of marriage? What is it going to look like when you get to settlement on this? What should you be settling and seeking? Do you take the house right now, which is overvalued in most markets and have to hang on to it when the value falls. Or do you take the stocks or the cryptocurrency, which seem to not be retaining any value at all.

How do you bridge the gap from filing for divorce until the housing market becomes stable, until the stocks and the cryptocurrencies recover their value.

I’m going to talk about some of the strategies that a spouse in a superior economic position may wish to adopt.

Housing Strategy

First of all, the spouse in the superior economic position is probably not going to want to keep a house that is being purchased by that spouse at the top of the market. That’s not a good sound financial decision. If that spouse does want to keep the house at the top of the market, then the out spouse, the spouse that’s not getting the house, is going to get a very good value for it.

I would hope that most people would be looking to sell the house so both parties can get the funds, maybe sit out the market and buy back in when it’s at a lower value.

That does mean you’re going to have to be able to afford an apartment for a while, or a rental of some kind. That seems to me to be something that I would hope a lot of people are considering.

Discuss with Your Financial Advisor

And I hope, I must tell you, you cannot take financial advice from me. I can give you legal advice. Financial advice you’ve got to get from a financial advisor. So anything you hear from me in this little video clip, you need to take to your financial advisor and discuss it with your divorce attorney.

Cryptocurrency Considerations

Now, cryptocurrency is near and dear to my heart. I had a case a couple of years ago where one of my clients was convinced that opposing party was hiding money and then transferred it into cryptocurrency. And it took me about a half an hour to figure out how to find it.

So, this is not an asset class that can be easily hidden. It’s an asset class that can be easily lost if you’re not taking care of your access to your wallets and your cryptocurrency accounts. The loss is a whole different issue that I’m not going to discuss right now.

What I’m going to talk about right now, there’s probably a bunch of you bought into cryptocurrency when it was at a very low value. Or you had a spouse mining the cryptocurrency when it was very cheap. It went up to extraordinarily high levels and now it’s bounced down. What do you do with the cryptocurrency? Just give it to your other spouse and take it at the value that’s traded at today, or do you want to try to do an equal and kind division of the cryptocurrency?

Say you’ve got 25 bitcoins. Well, let’s call it 24, make it easy. The court would be required, under Family Code Section 2550, I believe, in California. To distribute that equally, 12 to each side in kind. So you’re each coming away with bitcoin that is presently valued, I think, at around the $20,000 to $22,000 range.

That’s painful for somebody who was looking at it at $50,000 a while back. You need to talk to a financial advisor. Do you take it at the lower value of today’s rate, which is going to be paid to you in U.S. dollars? Or do you hang on to it and hope that it recovers in value? You need to talk to a financial advisor who knows about cryptocurrency before you make that decision

Stocks

We’re looking at the same thing with what’s going on with stocks. We had stocks that were trading at very high levels, especially in the technological sector. Now, we’re looking at these stocks having just taken a swan dive.

What do you do? Do you enforce on the equal and kind distribution of the stocks? And everybody gets five shares of Apple, everybody get five shares of Amazon, everybody gets five shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Or do you just take the value at today’s value?

Some people are going to think that they are smarter than the market, that they can time it. Everything I’ve been told my entire life is, don’t try to time the market, no matter what it is. And that goes back to some very early wisdom coming from my own father.

Find Your Own Financial Advisor

The flip side of this is, there are good financial advisors out there who can work with your attorneys and should be working with your attorneys.

For the people who do have these types of asset classes to be considered at this point in time, especially if you are the spouse who was not familiar with the asset class. If you were the spouse that is not the one who’s always talking to the financial advisor, you need to get your own financial advisor and figure out what you should be doing with this.

The spouse that believed in these things may be willing to pay you more than they’re worth right now, which could be a good solution. And the spouse that’s looking at this as just a destroyed investment might be willing to give you the whole thing.

You need a financial advisor of your own so that you know what you’re doing.

Help With Your Divorce in California and Texas

Our job as family law attorneys in a divorce process is to give you the best advice we can possibly give you and let you make the decision. The best advice I can give you about these asset classes at this point in time is for God’s sake, talk to a financial advisor.

Talk to them, develop a plan, have them talk to your attorney and then have the attorney effectuate the plan. My name is Carla Hartley and I hope I have been helpful.

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