Going through a divorce can be heart wrenching. Along with the trauma of dealing with who has custody of the children, there is often a lot of drama around who gets to keep what. Movies like War of the Roses, where a couple battles literally to their mutual death over their house, may be exaggerated, but the basic premise is sound. People get really wound up over their stuff, and often resort to extreme measures to get what they want, or at least keep the other spouse from getting the car, the house, valuable artwork, etc.
One bad piece of advice that gets circulated a lot is that concealing assets is a good divorce strategy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Especially in a state like New Mexico, which is a community property state, attempting to conceal assets from your soon-to-be-ex spouse is a very bad idea. Not only is it likely to be an unsuccessful attempt, but once the judge discovers what you’re up to, your case will be poisoned in his or her eyes. That’s a headache you do not need. Maybe you’re too clever to blatantly hide assets. Instead, you have the bright idea that you will “sell” a coveted possession to a friend or loved one for a fraction of its value, with the understanding that you’ll “buy” it back once the divorce is final. Try to resist the temptation. Not only is this tactic seldom more effective than outright hiding assets, in many cases it isn’t necessary to resort to such extremes.
There are measures in place to protect personal assets to which you have a legitimate right to keep separate from your soon-to-be-ex spouse. Examples of property that generally don’t fall under the community property category include property obtained before the marriage, an inheritance that you receive individually, even after the marriage and a gift from a third party made specifically to you. There may be other measures you can take to protect personal property that adhere to the law – the secret is getting the advice of a competent attorney.