Divorce: Dividing Assets
You and your spouse have decided that your marriage should come to an end. It isn’t a decision made lightly, but it is one that has followed months of wrangling, attempts at reconciliation and perhaps a realization that the marriage is no longer workable.
As you begin to separate, an important issue will come up: dividing tangible assets. That division isn’t always cut and dry, especially if children are involved, and other unusual factors must be considered. You need to work with a divorce attorney to ensure that your rights and needs are defended. Here’s how to get those assets divided.
Equality is a Concept
A fair and equitable distribution of assets may not be possible. Indeed, the more complicated your holdings, the more likely things won’t be settled fully to your satisfaction. Moreover, it is important that you steel yourself for the days, weeks and months ahead. You have only begun a long, tedious legal process.
There is much to be considered when dividing assets. Likely, there is a residence that is co-owned. There may be more than one vehicle, an assortment of collectibles, household items, and your retirement benefits. You won’t be giving anything away without agreeing to it. Nonetheless, understand that equity and equanimity may be elusive.
Nevertheless, the state in which the divorce is being conducted can impact how assets are distributed. For instance, if you live in a community property state, then the legal rules and ramifications are slightly different. Specifically, any properties acquired before you were married should go with that spouse. Further, keep in mind that fair distribution does not always assume equality.
Draw up a List
It is important for spouses to draw up a list of every asset, whether owned jointly or not. Ideally, you will sit down with your spouse to make this list together, to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
First, list your bank accounts, including savings and checking accounts. Investments, stocks, bonds and other financial vehicles are included too. Second, list your vehicles and the name or names of the owners. Third, write down what property is owned, including your main home and vacation property such as a timeshare. Fourth, make a list of your valuables. Fifth, create another list of your household items. List your retirement accounts and any other property you can think of.
It is harder to divide assets if contention is present. It can cost you more too if you need legal intervention to settle matters. As much as possible, attempt to settle disagreements without outside intervention. It may take an unusual agreement on your parts. That is, “you can have the house, and I’ll keep the retirement accounts.”
Full disclosure is important when working together. Let fairness reign and resolve to settle disagreement amicably.
Of course, not all assets can be cleanly divided. You may have the retirement accounts, but she owns the business. How you will divide these, and certain other assets are not easy to accomplish.
Your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will review your list and discuss with you possible changes to be made. Know that your attorney is looking to protect your best interests and may have suggestions in mind to aid you.