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When Do Marital Property Claims End in a Rhode Island Divorce?

I went through that Nominal Hearing and my wife and I settled everything in our Property Settlement Agreement that we gave to the judge at our hearing.  I had a chance to buy into a great business so I did it.  That business is a major money maker and my partner and I are doing great in just our first month.  Now my wife is claiming she is entitled to half of my interest in that business.  My lawyer says that isn't correct and she can't touch it.  What do you think?

Answer

Well, there are a few details missing but I will try to answer appropriately.  If your Property Settlement Agreement doesn't include a clause in which your wife waives any interest she may have in after-acquired property that you may purchase then you are going to have a problem.  According to case law, marital assets are divisible by the court right up until the date the that the Final Judgment is signed.  Therefore, if you don't have an "after acquired property clause" to rely upon and ask the court to enforce and take into consideration from your Property Settlement Agreement, then if you purchased this new business interest and operated that business with anything other than monies you borrowed, monies you were gifted from a third-party, monies you inherited, or monies you received which were determined to be a premarital asset or from the sale of a premarital asset, then your wife does have a right to make a claim to part of your business interest or your income from this new business.

Hopefully there is an "after-acquired" property clause in your Property Settlement Agreement because a judge may well balance the equity of giving your wife any of that interest against her contractual waiver or any such interest voluntarily.  Even though a judge's order will trump any contractual provision in your Property Settlement Agreement, your family court judge may take into consideration the conduct of the parties during the course of the marriage, including your wife's voluntary waiver of any interest in anything you purchase after she signed the Property Settlement Agreement and find that the only equitable thing to do is to deny your wife any part of the business.

If you need further clarity please call and set up an in depth coaching session with me so I can give you an even more direct response to your question and get more facts.  It certainly sounds as though your new business is certainly worth one hour and the nominal $135 fee for the one hour appointment to protect your new business.  You can never be too safe in cases like these.

Remember, my response is only my best guestimation based upon only the information you provided and any number of answers to a few additional questions may change the information provided here.

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