Some marital assets are difficult to divide

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Divorce on Friday, September 28, 2012.

Regardless of wealth, or the lack thereof, divorcing couples must agree to an equitable property division. Yet, at times, marital assets become difficult to divide fairly. They need some extra attention.

Whether in Chicago, Los Angeles or the smallest town in Iowa, everyone can learn from the well-publicized case of the co-owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the impending divorce of the spousal co-owners of the Philadelphia Eagles. While most of us have more modest assets, their publicity graphically illustrates the difficulty in dividing some marital property.

Even some assets that may be valued equally, may not, after closer inspection, be truly equal. For example, a bank account or cash equal to some amount, counterbalanced by real estate valued at the same level, on paper, are the same. After further evaluation, the real estate could be important as a domicile, increasing its value, but comes with real estate taxes, utility bills and maintenance costs that may effectively decrease its true value, as compared to an equal amount of cash.

Knowing that property division problems could occur, people should consider the following action plans. First, protect yourself, by considering the worst outcome before you sign any agreements or contracts. While both parties are on the same page, consider what might happen if one or both move to a different page–divorce. Be aware that the classic stalemate breaker, sell all disputed assets and divide the cash proceeds, is not always available or wise. Should both parties face tax consequences, down markets or weak demand, selling assets could cost everyone money. Dividing assets with uncertain worth, but sentimental value require both parties to be reasonable.

Commit to be reasonable with your spouse, however contentious your divorce, when agreeing to fair property division. Everyone understands it often becomes “all about the money.” However, along with the monetary value, there can be other, equally important or confusing issues surrounding some marital assets. Divide them fairly.

Do you have any ideas about helping smooth the process of dividing marital assets fairly?

Source: Forbes, “How To Handle Difficult To Divide Assets,” Jeff Landers, Sept. 18, 2012