A lot of people feel cheated by the outcome of their divorce. Their child custody and visitation arrangement might not feel fair, and their property division arrangement might not leave them on as strong of financial footing as they would have liked. This is an unfortunate outcome that often befalls those who enter divorce proceedings without a plan and a strategy to bring that plan into reality. That’s why it’s often best to discuss these matters with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you separate the emotions from the nuts and bolts of divorce to come up with arguments that seek to protect your, or your child’s, best interests.
This is often of particular importance when it comes to property division. In many instances, individuals have emotional attachments to marital assets, such as a family home or items of personal property. This often drives them to fight tooth and nail to obtain those assets, even if it means giving up on other, more valuable assets. This can be financially devastating in the long run, which is why you need to consider all of the martial assets that might be subjected to the property division process and carefully analyze each to better determine where you should fight and where you should give.
Let’s take a look at some of those assets:
- The family home: As we have discussed previously on the blog, there are a variety of options when it comes to dealing with the family home, but fighting for it might not be best. This is because it can be costly to pay for and maintain, especially when going at it alone. So think carefully about whether you’d be better off exchanging the home for more financially advantageous assets like retirement accounts or selling it off to acquire a quick infusion of cash.
- Retirement accounts: These accounts are usually worth fighting for. This is because, while they can have significant value today, they can be worth much more over the course of time. You can’t underestimate the value of compound interest. Be prepared for your spouse to fight for these assets, too, though, which is why you need to have a solid plan going into negotiations or trial. If you end up dividing or transferring these accounts, then you need to know how to do so appropriately so that you don’t get hit with a penalty.
- Personal property: This would include family heirlooms, jewelry, clothing, and furniture. Some of these items can have significant sentimental value, and so you might want to fight for them a little bit. However, you probably shouldn’t get hung up assets that are easily replaceable, such as the couch or a television.
- The family business: Like the family home, this asset could be a huge asset or it could be a massive liability. It really depends on the facts at hand and what you want for your future. Worst case scenario, you can probably sell the business and divide the proceeds with your spouse in an equitable fashion. Best case scenario, if you want to keep the business, is that you either buyout your spouse or you exchange other assets to keep the business. If your business is successful, then keeping it might provide you with some financial stability as you move onto the next phase of your life.
When entering divorce, you need a personalized game plan that takes your interests and your vision of the future into account. To increase your chances of succeeding on that plan, you need to know what is most important to you, what you won’t budge on, and where you’re willing to give. The same holds true for your spouse. Knowing where he or she is willing to give and where he or she isn’t can give you some leverage during negotiations. It’s also important that you know the value of the assets in play during property division. This may require utilizing an expert to help you gain a realistic view of the financial value of these assets.
If all of this sounds complex, don’t worry. You can work closely with your divorce attorney to come up with a legal strategy that works best for you.