Going through a divorce is tough. Not only are you dealing with the emotional grief of ending a marriage, but you also have to figure out how to split up your assets fairly—your home, retirement funds, and businesses. It’s a lot. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and both you and your ex feel good about the outcome.
In this article, you’ll learn practical tips to help you protect your rights while also avoiding unnecessary conflicts over money and other assets. Because at the end of the day, you both deserve to find closure and be able to move forward. So, read on.
Understand the law
The first strategy is getting familiar with the asset division laws in your area. Laws may not automatically mandate equal splits of all marital property. Instead, courts take a more discretionary case-by-case approach to reaching an equitable distribution based on factors like:
- The earning capacity, income, property, and other financial resources each party has or may likely have in the future
- Both parties’ financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities
- The standard of living enjoyed during the union or marriage
- Physical or mental disability of either party
- The contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home and caring for the family
- The conduct of the parties, if it would be unfair to disregard it
While the law does not precisely define what percentage share each spouse deserves, the court looks at what’s fair and just based on the totality of the circumstances. In this case, you’ll want to research specifics and work with a seasoned division of property lawyer who is fully versed in relevant statutes and case law precedent.
Full financial disclosures with documentation
Another non-negotiable factor is the complete openness and honesty about all assets and debts on both sides. Many try hiding money in secret accounts to skirt split, but once uncovered, this destroys credibility and good faith.
Come clean with specific documentation about anything jointly owned or owed, like:
- Property deeds, mortgage statements
- Bank, investment, and retirement account statements
- Tax returns
- Credit card and loan statements
- Business partnerships, ownership stakes
- Luxury items like cars, boats, jewellery
Also, reveal any relevant personal inheritances, trust funds, gifts, or premarital assets. Sweeping unknown obligations under the rug may only cause problems later. So, be transparent from the start.
Secure professional asset appraisals
Valuing certain assets accurately is tricky. Therefore, using appraisal professionals prevents subjectivity and arguments. Secure experts to evaluate and establish fair, objective worth for:
- Real estate
- Intellectual property like patents
- Art, collectables, valuables
Do not over or under-estimate value benefits for both parties in negotiations. Get appraisals done even if one spouse wants an asset—the other still deserves appropriate compensation.
Mediate rather than litigate
Courtroom litigation must be a last resort, as judges tend to split assets by the book in a more black-and-white fashion. Mediation would be a better option as it involves an impartial, trained professional helping couples equitably divide and assign percentage ownership themselves.
The huge advantage is tailoring agreements to your specific situation in a private, confidential setting outside rigid court constraints. Skilled mediators can identify and diffuse conflicts, gently guiding couples toward workable solutions. If you have complex asset division needs like managing a family business, mediation allows bespoke arrangements and win-win compromises.
The takeaway—if you can possibly avoid duking it out with attorneys in court over money and assets, please do so! The emotional toll, time investment, and legal fees can amplify dramatically.
Be reasonable and willing to compromise
Divorce negotiations require compromise. Rarely will you receive exactly 50% of what you feel entitled to across the board. As heartbreaking as the relationship ending may be, approach asset division pragmatically.
Consider which assets mean more personally, like a family home or a vacation property. Then, indicate a willingness to give a little more on financial assets like retirement funds in exchange.
State your case asserting your rights, but don’t take unreasonable ‘all or nothing’ stances out of anger or resentment. These merely spur counterproductive fights. If you want battles, the court is the place, not settlement talks.
Discuss tax implications
One mistake couples make is not thinking about the latent tax consequences of asset transfers. For instance, pulling large sums from retirement accounts too early triggers penalties. Transferring investment assets could mean realizing big capital gains.
Figuring this angle into negotiations prevents fiscal pitfalls that negate fairness down the road. It also helps decide which spouse should receive what. Generally, the higher wage earner gets assessed assets with more tax liability.
Work with financial and legal experts
Lastly, assemble a collaborative team of financial planners and divorce lawyers. Divorce finance pros can aid with budgeting alimony or child support, managing complex property splits, and ensuring equitable overall outcomes. The right lawyer passionately champions your personal interests within the legal process.
Without guidance from professionals versed in state divorce laws and precedent, you risk leaving money on the table or agreeing to subpar settlements. Protect yourself and hire experts!
You’re already struggling through the grief of divorce and battling viciously over assets can only make things harder. The ideal situation is you both walk away feeling the distribution was fair. This gives you closure and the ability to start rebuilding your life without all that financial bitterness.
Remember that the law exists to provide guidance as long as you thoughtfully follow the process. Moreover, divorce does not have to be a zero-sum game when it comes to money and possessions. Working with professionals and taking the high road can give you the best shot at an outcome you can both live with.