When you were unmarried and lived with a significant other, it may have been relatively easy to split your things when you both called it quits. Maybe he got the DVD boxed sets and you got the cookware. Although you knew you’d miss watching endless episodes of the X-Files, you knew you had the better end of the bargain with the pots and pans. Undoubtedly, there was a bittersweet end and some quarreling about splitting up things, but they were just things. You moved on.
Now you are facing divorce and you’re facing the splitting of things (“assets” they call them) again, but this time it’s harder, more emotional, and more frustrating. Let’s face it, divorce is tough, but many couples have agreed that the splitting of assets during divorce is one of the most difficult steps in the process.
Understand Separate vs. Marital
Many couples assume that the splitting of assets will be straight down the middle with equal financial value. While this might work in some cases, particularly couples who have no sentimental attachment to anything, this is not a practical or common practice.
Separate assets are anything that each spouse owned before marriage. Separate assets can include everything from expensive jewelry to real estate or a car. So, if you got family heirloom from your great-grandmother before you got married, it is yours. Such assets, however, are at risk of being included in marital assets if your spouse became a co-owner of something you owned previously or you deposited money (such as inheritance) into a joint account.
Marital assets can easily be defined as anything that you, as a married couple, owned or purchased together. That means cars, homes, tax refunds, valuable art or antiques, the list goes on. Even if your name isn’t on something, such as a retirement plan or 401Ks, you are entitled to a portion of whatever built up during the length of your marriage.
So, It’s Simple…Just Like That?
In theory, it should be cut-and-dry, but the splitting of assets can make the divorce process an arduous one. What can make the whole process even more complicated depends on where you live. If you live in a state that is considered a Community Property State or Equitable Distribution State, all marital assets are split, 50/50. So while you may try to prepare yourself for “equal” you can’t guarantee that it will be fair.
Preparing for an Asset Split
Depending where you are at, emotionally or mentally, you might be tempted to tell your soon-to-be ex to take at all. Maybe you’re so ready to be out that you don’t care what goes with you or stays behind. Rethink these feelings immediately. There will come a time, probably shortly after the divorce is finalized, that you wish you would have taken the opportunity to split the assets together. Although it can be a difficult process, making a detailed list with your spouse, it’s an important step in coming to terms with and finalizing your divorce.