For couples who are preparing for divorce, dividing marital property and debts is the primary reason that attorneys are hired. Marital property includes all items that a couple has acquired during the course of the marriage. When spouses cannot agree how to separate the accumulated assets and debts, then the court must decide on an equitable division. To keep legal costs in line, it is always advisable to keep the matter out of the court room and to divide the property amicably.
It is important for couples to be fair when assigning value to the items are that considered marital property. Marital property also includes the separate bank or brokerage accounts that spouses have never mentioned to their partner. When these kinds of accounts are revealed after assets have been fully disclosed, the penalties for hiding assets can be substantial.
Make a list of all significant marital debts and assets that are to be
divided and assign a value to each item. For significant items, such as
homes, businesses, antiques, or expensive vehicles, it is always best
to have them appraised by a professional.
Certain kinds of investments may also require the assistance of an outside authority.
Begin by assigning the rightful owner to specific pieces of property, and then attempt to assign ownership to each item on the list. Start with the most valuable items and keep track of the total value assigned to each partner. Smaller items may be used to off set any imbalances.
Obtaining the Court’s approval
When both spouses agree on the division of marital property, the court will usually approve the agreement. The exception to this is unless one of the parties has not been represented by an attorney and has agreed to an inequitable division. In cases such as these, the judge may make inquiries in order to ascertain that the division of assets is just and fair.