Listing assets and debts for your divorce
You and your spouse have been together a long time, shared countless life moments, and amassed a substantial collection of stuff. Some of it is crammed into closets or stored in the basement or parked in the driveway, while the rest appears on a ledger or bank statement.
But somewhere along the way, things didn’t work out between you and you’ve decided to part ways. As if that’s not challenging and emotionally draining enough, now comes the tough part. Even if you are both calm and collected, still get along, and the situation is as amicable as it can be; it can be a complicated endeavor to accurately and fairly split debts and assets.
Dividing the spoils
Before a judge will grant a divorce request in any state, a couple must divide debt and marital property. To make this happen, the couple can choose to work together to reach a fair agreement or turn it over for the court to decide. Looking at the big picture, a judge obviously doesn’t understand the details of your family dynamics as well you do. To keep control of how debts and assets are divided, it’s in your best interest to work smartly with your spouse rather than let the court determine your fate.
Community property or equitable distribution
In community property states, a court deems both spouses equally responsible for all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. In the event of property that belongs solely to you, regardless if you acquired it while married or brought it into the marriage, a separate request must be made asking the court to fully award the property to you.
Equitable distribution states divide marital property as fairly as possible between spouses by categorizing the property into marital or separate prior to issuing an award to either party. This often is something other than a 50/50 split and any separate property must be supported with proof of ownership.
Make a list, check it twice
A straightforward and efficient approach to dividing property involves each spouse to first make a list of assets and which of you should receive them. With completed lists in hand, get together with your spouse, compare, and work with each other to resolve any disagreements.
The key with this process is to remain transparent and honest, identifying all assets acquired during the marriage including things such as vehicles, bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and all other items of value.
If a settlement is reached and you learn later that your ex withheld information about an asset, a request to reopen the case is allowed to reevaluate the property division decision. If a judge determines a spouse intentionally withheld asset information, that spouse may incur fines, penalties, or lose the asset altogether.
Determine property value
Another very important step in property division is determining and assigning value. Address each applicable property item and determine its fair market value. This is the amount the item is worth if sold on today’s market, regardless if you paid twice that two years ago. Courts typically accept fair market value but don’t assume as much; the best approach is to present accurate and organized information prior to a judge’s decision.
Looking for more property division information? Contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or gucciardofamilylaw.com.
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