Dividing property can be a complicated matter of give-and-take that includes not only physical goods and assets but also the debt that goes along with them. Assuming real property and the bills tend to muddy the waters of equitable distribution of assets somewhat. Add to the mix contributions to assets that will not pay out until retirement like 401K contributions and the negotiations can feel even more daunting. Determining current value weighted against outstanding debt can sound simple, but in the midst of a divorce when all those assets have emotional attachments, the formula can become a little more complex.
Create a list of property with realistic valuation, debt and so forth, especially if you have not been the one handling the bills can be a valuable tool to start the process. Begin with larger items such as house, car and any physical properties and work your way toward smaller and less tangible things to get a clear picture of the marital property. Additionally, items that can appreciate in value like artwork, jewelry, and collectibles should be acknowledged and evaluated by an appraiser.
Defining and identifying non-marital property can also be of benefit to avoid confusion during the negotiations of division. Items that you took with you into the marriage and family heirlooms might be taken off the table so that you can bring them with you out of the marriage without prejudice. Also, financial accounting of any amounts of money whether in a bank account, investment or retirement fund can typically be treated separately.
Complex property division can be difficult to work through with the added aspect of sentimental value and financial intricacies. Seeking the guidance of a trained expert can be a benefit in reaching an equitable division of assets and protecting your interests. Consult with a qualified divorce attorney as early as possible in the discussions surrounding dissolution of marriage.