When you entered into marriage you agreed to share. What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours, remember? Well when you get divorced, clearly, that’s over. Now it’s time to get down to business dividing up the assets and objects acquired during marriage.
Some things are easier to divvy up than others. Deciding who keeps the plates and silverware is easy, deciding who gets to keep what percentage of the stocks or retirement plan, not so much. The friendlier and more fair you can keep things between you the more likely you are to keep your divorce from seeing the inside of a courtroom.
First things first, take stock of what you own. Each of you can make a list of your joint assets and then compare notes to make sure nothing gets left out. Assets include things like homes, cars, vacation or rental properties, recreational vehicles, retirement plans, pension plans, stocks, businesses, professional practices, and deferred compensation. Make sure neither one of you has anything sneaky in mind like trying to do away with assets right before the divorce out of spite or hiding them by gifting them to family or friends, if discovered in court you could be liable for their value.
When dividing the assets you will need to have a clear understanding of their value and not just their current market value but their short term and long term values as well. If you let your spouse keep something that could be sold for a substantial price later you may be entitled to compensation upfront. Some of these assets have serious tax implications so be sure to consult with a tax attorney or CPA during this process.
When children are involved the family home will often go to the parent with full custody but that isn’t always the case. Local law will have a lot to say about who gets the house and if the house should be sold and the money split. It gets even trickier these days where many people’s homes are under water in value.
If you find yourself having difficulty deciding who gets what, consider trying medication, I mean, mediation. Mediation means having a third party sit down with you and taking an unbiased stab and dividing the assets, especially tricky things like family businesses. It can save you from a costly legal battle down the road.