All our lives we acquire and lose things. We buy, we sell, trade and borrow. We spend all day at jobs to buy the things we desire. It’s not only physical things that we acquire however. We also acquire retirement plans, bank accounts, investments, and debts. We gain some of these things before marriage and some during. If and when these marriages come to an end assets must be divided between spouses. This is never easy and it’s important to understand your rights so that you receive a fair settlement. It’s wise to get a good understanding of exactly what the value of all these assets are and to hire some professionals such as an attorney and an accountant or actuary to help with this process.
Which Assets Must Be Split?
The law basically lays out two types of properties when it comes to divorce, communal and individual. Anything gained during the course of the marriage typically falls into the communal pile. Any cars, homes, investments or other gains made while the couple is married would fall into this category and are the assets that will be split. Not all items are easy to split however. Something like a bank account is rather easy to divide. According to the settlement each spouse will simply take the percentage they are entitled to. Retirement plans are similar in nature. A court will often order each plan to pay each individual a certain percentage for a defined period of time. It gets a little trickier when it comes to dividing physical assets such as houses and cars. No one really wants half of a car. This means that one spouse may be required to buy the other one out. In other words, the spouse keeping the asset would have to buy the other one’s share in it. This can be complicated and expensive so many couples choose to sell these types of assets and split the money.
What Assets are not Split?
The bulk of assets most couples have will fall into the communal asset category. There are a few types of assets that are not included as communal and therefore not split. Even assets that were owned solely by one party before the marriage typically become communal assets in divorce. The only assets that are truly safe from division are those covered by some sort of prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is made before the marriage and is signed by both parties with witnesses. These agreements decide what will happen to the assets they cover in case of divorce.
Preparing to Settle
You’ll need to have an accurate picture of exactly what all of your assets are worth in order to get a fair settlement. You can’t get half of something if you don’t know how big it is! Homes are often a large part of any divorce settlement and so it’s wise to have them professionally appraised before beginning your settlement. You’ll also want to find the values for any vehicles that you are splitting, as you wouldn’t want to pay a new price for an old car. It’s also important to value any retirement plans that you may have as they will help to ensure your financial future. These assets can be a little trickier but a qualified accountant or actuary should be able to help you sort them out. It may seem like a huge undertaking to figure all of this out but it will be critical when it comes to getting a fair settlement.
It’s important to get help from qualified professionals with local experience as laws change from state to state. You’ll want to get an attorney, as they will be able to advise you as to your rights and responsibilities in divorce as well as help ensure that you receive a fair settlement. An accountant or actuary will be able to help sort out values on tricky retirement plans and investments. These professionals may be expensive but they will help you get what you are entitled to and keep you from coming up short. Without having a plan for splitting all of your assets no state will finalize your divorce.