All marital assets are subject to division in a divorce. Likewise, any debt acquired during your marriage, such as credit card balances, car loans, and mortgages must be divided as well.
Some marital estates present a greater challenge when it comes to the division of assets. Traditional pension plans cannot be immediately divided. Executive pay packages are not a clear-cut matter of salary – they may include deferred stock options and other contingent benefits. Even the proper valuation of a small business can be quite complicated.
If complex assets will be part of your divorce settlement agreement, work with a divorce lawyer with the experience and expert resources on hand to ensure your interests are protected.
Property Division and Debt Settlement: Providing Documentation
To ensure you aren’t exposed to future legal problems or find yourself saddled with debt that isn’t yours, it’s important to review the following kinds of documentation when dividing marital equity and debt:
- Tax returns
- Mortgage papers
- Investment portfolio
- Bank account records
- Credit card statements
- Pension plan statements
- Any titles or deeds of ownership
- Business records (if you own your own business)
Get Expert Advice before Your Settlement is Complete
Our office has the legal and financial resources needed to properly value complex estates. We work with forensic accountants, business valuators, and even private investigators, when needed, to identify marital assets and debts and establish the true value of assets such as:
- Traditional pensions (which cannot be divided until the person who earned the pension reaches retirement age) may require a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) before it can actually be divided
- Securities portfolios
- Business partnerships or professional practices whose value includes not only the actual assets on hand but also goodwill
Assets Owned Before Marriage
While at first glance an asset owned before marriage is “separate” property, if the asset appreciated in value during the course of the marriage, that value may be considered a marital asset. In some situations, a separate asset can become a marital asset depending upon how it was used during the marriage.
It’s common to consult financial experts to determine correct business valuations, real estate appraisals, or gains over basis on investment securities.
The division of some types of marital assets may also have tax implications that should be considered before a final decision is made on property division and alimony. We ensure you have full knowledge of the financial and tax trade-offs of your divorce settlement agreement.
When the Numbers Don’t Add Up
In cases where financial information is lacking or unclear, we work with forensic accountants and investigators to uncover hidden assets, undeclared property and determine the real value of a business. Alternatively, if your ex-spouse claims your business is worth more than it is, or your assets are greater than reported, our accounting consultants can provide documentation to support your claims.