One of the most important aspects of divorce is deciding how to split up assets and debt. Ideally, couples can agree on this themselves rather than having a judge decide for them. However, this isn’t always possible. In the absence of agreement, it is often necessary to file a claim for equitable division.
The legal system divides property in a few different ways, depending on the state where you live. Some states, such as New York, use an “equitable division” standard, which means that a court will attempt to make the property distribution as fair as possible. This does not necessarily mean that assets will be split evenly, but it may include considerations like how long the marriage was, the age and health of each spouse, loss of pension rights and other financial considerations.
It is also common for a divorcing couple to have some disagreement over how to divide their personal property, including pets. This can be complicated because most of the time, the emotional value of a pet far outweighs its economic worth. In addition, an exploitative spouse could use a pet as a bargaining tool to get more of the marital estate.
In addition, the law regarding what constitutes marital property varies from state to state. Generally speaking, a court will consider all property that either spouse earned or acquired during the marriage as marital property, except for gifts and inheritances that are considered separate property. If you are not sure what is or isn’t marital property, it is helpful to speak with a divorce attorney and a certified divorce financial planner (CDFA).
Another important point to note is that there are people who try to game the system by hiding assets from their spouse and the courts. This can be done in a variety of ways, including keeping income from a job secret and only accepting cash, giving money or property to family members or even hiding property and accounts in another state. This can cause significant problems if it is discovered and could result in a spouse losing out on property that they would otherwise be entitled to receive.
Children of divorced parents are often particularly hard hit. They must not only deal with the trauma of a dissolution of their parent’s marriage, but they may feel that it was their fault or that they have somehow contributed to the divorce. It is important to talk with them regularly and help them process their feelings. Additionally, they need reassurance that their behavior is not what caused the divorce and that there is nothing they could have done to change things.
In the midst of a divorce, it is easy to become overwhelmed and take hasty decisions. It is important to build a team of professionals that can support you through the process, including a family law attorney, a CDFA and a CPA. It is also a good idea to have only bank accounts and credit cards in your own name until after the divorce is finalized.