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Divorce courts reluctant to rehear property settlement decisions

If a spouse has access to substantial assets that may lead to complex property issues in a divorce situation, it is essential that such a person consult with an experienced family law attorney. It doesn’t matter if you live in Birmingham or any other locale – decisions regarding property divisions are mostly permanent and cannot be retried at a later date.

Because of this, a partner at one of America’s largest law offices may wish that he had sought better financial advice before getting married. The dividing up of assets during his divorce involved millions of dollars of assets. The division of such property at first went smooth. However, problems arose when the law partner made the dubious choice of investing his money obtained in the divorce settlement with Barnard Madoff. He lost money while his former spouse retained what she had by investing her money more wisely.

The law partner then took the matter back to court and asked that they reconsider the property division. The court declined to rehear the matter. The court reasoned that there is an inherent risk anytime property divisions are made as certain assets may decline in value. It’s not the fault of one spouse if the other spouse makes bad choices that cause the value of assets to go down.

Courts would prefer to never reconsider division of property rulings because it would be opening a can of worms. If such reconsiderations were allowed, former spouses dissatisfied with earlier rulings may keep coming back to the court to have the original ruling changed. Years after a divorce is finalized it is no longer the problem of one spouse that the other spouse lost money – especially when that other spouse lost money due to poorly informed decisions.

Because there is such finality in divorce property settlements, anyone contemplating a divorce will want to make sure that any stipulation made will take into account changing value of particular assets. Otherwise that person may have to live with their losses.

Source: Forbes, “Divorce Is Final, No Do-Overs Allowed,” by Jeff Landers, May 1, 2012