Why Does the Division of Assets Complicate Most Divorces?

While you might dream of having a simple, quick divorce, that’s not always an easy task if you have any marital assets you’ll have to divide. In fact, the division of assets is one of the most complicated aspects of divorce, which is why you need an experienced divorce lawyer to help you through the process. If you’re not sure how asset division is going to affect your divorce, here’s what you need to know and expect.

All About Asset Division

Dividing your assets is not as simple as making a list of who wants what items. There are many issues which impact the division of assets including the identification of and valuation of assets, contemplation of tax consequences from any division, division of debts and liabilities, identification and valuation of various claims between the parties or between the estates of the parties, and applicable laws which impact all of these issues. If you are not prepared for the process of dividing your assets, you may end up missing out on significant money and benefits to which you may be entitled.  This is why you need a divorce lawyer who will help you evaluate your case, identify and value the assets in your marital estate, identify and value various legal claims that may impact the division of your estate, and provide you informed advice as to what you are entitled.  A lawyer can also uncover any hidden assets you might not know about, as it’s common for one spouse to try to hide valuable assets during the divorce or even throughout the marriage.

During your divorce, you will need to divide up major assets like the house, cars, artwork, jewelry and any investment properties you and your spouse own. But these are only the most obvious items, since division of assets goes beyond the tangible property. You will also need to divide cash, checking accounts, savings accounts, stock options, pensions, retirement accounts, partnerships, businesses, deferred income and any other valuable assets owned by you or your spouse, regardless of whether such assets are owned individually or jointly. A divorce attorney can help you through the complexities involved in dividing these assets.

Note that there may be complicated tax issues and a need for formal documentation when assessing the value of certain assets or affecting the division of certain assets.  These issues often require the assistance of CPAs, financial experts, real estate experts, and others.  You will need the guidance of an attorney to identify when and which experts are needed and to help you navigate the complicated process of working with these experts to ascertain the total value of your marital estate and determining the best manner to divide your marital estate.

The Effect of Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements (also known Premarital Agreements) and Postnuptial Agreements (also known as Post Marital Agreements) can significantly impact the characterization of assets, liabilities and income during a marriage.  These agreements can also significantly impact the division of assets and liabilities upon divorce and can impact claims for relief which a party could otherwise pursue upon divorce such as spousal support and claims for reimbursement. However, the existence of one of these agreements does not necessarily result in a simple divorce and often times can create more issues that need to be litigated.  If you have previously signed one of these documents contact the Moffett Law Firm for a consultation.  We can review the document with you and advise you of its impact on all aspects of your divorce.

If you don’t yet have one — and you’re either still married or about to get married — you can protect yourself and your assets from claims and issues which may arise in a future divorce by hiring a lawyer to help you write such an agreement and assure the agreement is properly entered into by both spouses. A prenuptial agreement tends to be the most popular option, as this allows couples to identify which assets they’re bringing into the marriage before their wedding day and identifying how they wish for certain claims and issues to be handled upon divorce. A prenuptial agreement can identify which assets belong to each party prior to marriage (and therefore are not subject to division on divorce), can state which assets acquired or to be acquired during marriage will be awarded to each person upon divorce, how income will be treated during the marriage, and how contributions to one spouses’ separate estate will be handled upon divorce. If you are entering a marriage with significantly more income or assets than your spouse, a prenuptial agreement is recommended to protect those assets and clarify the character of any future income in the event of divorce.

If you didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married, it’s not too late. You can sign a similar document during marriage. A postnuptial agreement (or Post Marital Agreement) can have the same purpose and the same impact as a prenuptial agreement.  It can clarify which assets each person brought into the marriage and which property each will be awarded in the event of a divorce.. Even if your marriage is going well and you don’t see divorce on the horizon, a postnuptial agreement can give you peace of mind and certain assurances as to the protection of properties and income addressed therein.

Whether you’re facing divorce in Houston and must deal with the division of assets, or are interested in entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, come to Moffett Law Firm for a consultation. We’ll help you determine the next steps with an experienced divorce lawyer by your side.