Often, many of the women I work with on their divorce finances know very little, sometimes nothing, about their marital assets (or liabilities for that matter). This is gradually changing, but surprisingly, still exists.
Maybe the husband has simply kept the information largely to himself, or the wife doesn’t feel she understands finances like she should, so leaves it up to her spouse, or she is primarily involved with raising the children and sometimes also trying to manage a job or career of her own and doesn’t have time to devote to their deeper finances. Whatever the reason, if a woman is facing divorce, it is very important that she get up to speed quickly on her marital finances now. Her future and possibly the future of her children depends on this!
Let’s face it, much of divorce centers on finances. And today’s couples can have complex financial portfolios. Calculating the valuations of common assets such as real estate, cars, boats, motorcycles, art, antiques, wine collections and more can turn into major points of contention in a divorce. Then, there are life insurance policies, retirement plans, pensions, stock options, restricted stocks, deferred compensation, brokerage accounts, bonuses and more that must be evaluated so they can be divided equitably between spouses. All of these assets may be factors in your divorce from current as well as previous employers. Quite often, wives don’t even realize these types of assets and others are part of the couple’s marital estate. Another component of this process is determining how to put a current value on some of these assets, which will be distributed in the future as pensions, retirement packages, etc.
Here is a brief list of assets that may be part of your marital estate and subject to division in a divorce, depending on state laws:
- Collections and memorabilia
- Country club, golf course and other memberships
- Intellectual property: patents, copyrights, trademarks and royalty rights
- Lottery ticket winnings
- Money loaned to others, payable to either spouse
- Pets (which are often treated as property in a divorce, depending on state laws)
- Photos and keepsakes
- Retained earnings (a portion of corporate income retained by the corporation if your spouse owns a business)
- Tax refunds
- Term life insurance
- Travel Rewards program points
Obviously, there is a great deal to consider and potentially much research that should be done as one delves into the “discovery” part of identifying marital assets in a divorce. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I have been trained in these and other financial aspects of the divorce process. With 15 years of experience helping women and couples figure out equitable settlements in their divorces, I have learned who to ask for information, where to look for hidden assets, and how to calculate the value of assets that are set to be distributed in the future. If you need financial help with your divorce, give me a call at 832-858-0099.