When you go through a divorce, your main concerns will often be who will be getting which assets. This question depends on a lot of variables such as whether both spouses worked full-time, whether one spouse worked while another went to school or stayed home with the children, and so on. Here are some of the assets that will need to be considered as you go through the process of your divorce.
The House and Other Real Property
If you are renting your home, this is a non-issue, but if you own your home, there are a few different scenarios that could play out. The first is that the person who gets primary custody of the children will live there. The second is that the person who does not get primary custody of the children will live there. The third is that the house will be sold and the proceeds distributed fairly. There are also a variety of other possible solutions: One spouse might rent the home from the other, for example, or one spouse might need to buy out the other. If the home is worth less than it could be sold for, it’s possible that the house will need to be sold and both spouses will need to pay off the difference.
If you own more than one home, this further complicates matters, particularly if one home is a vacation home and worth substantially more or less than the family home. This home might have to be sold and the proceeds evenly distributed or you can work it out with your spouse so that one gets each home. Again, there are countless variations that might be appropriate.
Contrary to popular opinion, the name on the title of each vehicle does not necessarily impact who will get which vehicle. If you and your spouse each drive cars that are worth a similar amount of money, then it might work out perfectly that you each keep (and pay for) your own car. However, if one car is paid off and the other isn’t, or if you own one old car that’s not valuable and one newer car that is, or if you lease one or both cars, or if you own only one car, then it’s not as simple. This will become another asset that you will need to negotiate over.
Bank Accounts, Retirement Accounts, and Other Financial Property
Just like with cars, the name on a financial account does not necessarily dictate who gets the money after a divorce. These types of accounts are considered marital property in most states, so even if everything is in one person’s name, that doesn’t mean that that person gets the proceeds. You’ll need to make a list of all accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pensions, and any other accounts or sources of income that you each have. Then you can either work together to decide on a fair distribution or a mediator can help you, lawyers can negotiate, or it could be decided by a judge.
Household Items & Assets
Any home will have furniture and other items that won’t necessarily stay with the house. Everything from the wedding china to the bedroom set to the living room furniture to the art on the walls will need to be assigned to one spouse or the other. It usually depends on the value of each item. In some cases, the spouse who is getting the house will need to pay a negotiated price for some or all of the household items. In other cases, one spouse will get the house and the other will get the majority of the household items. And in many cases, the values of each item will be totaled and they will be equitably split. If you brought certain items into the marriage, particularly if they are sentimental, be sure to make note of them.
If the two of you co-own a business, there are different ways that it can be divided. There might be a buyout agreement, where one of you will get the business and the other will receive financial compensation. It’s important to consider not only the current value of the business but also what it’s likely to be worth in the future. In some cases, divorcing couples decide to keep their business intact, with each party owning 50 percent. If one or the other of you started a business before the marriage, that does not necessarily mean that the original owner can simply take their business with them without compensating the other.
In addition to considering assets, it’s also important to think about liabilities. If you and your spouse have debts, they will also need to be split. In many cases, debts will be split equally. Other times, however, the spouse who is getting more of the assets might also have more of the debts. It might not matter who is responsible for racking up the debt, either; if you live in a community-property state, the responsibility for paying it off might well fall on both of you.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
If one of you stayed home to raise children or to further your education, this might have an impact on the distribution of marital assets. Also, if one of you has a high income and one has a low income, this can also impact who gets which assets (and which debts). Finally, couples who have a prenuptial agreement should seek legal assistance to find out if any assets or debts accrued during the marriage are not affected by the agreement and to make decisions from there.
Getting a divorce isn’t easy, but with good legal counsel and an advocate, you can secure the best-case scenario for yourself and for your family. Call National Family Solutions. We can help you make a list of all of your assets and liabilities and help you find the resources you need to determine a fair and equitable distribution. If you need to go to court to have it decided, we can help with divorce in that way too. There’s no need to pay high legal fees; consider using a legal advocacy group to get you a fair settlement without breaking the bank.