Divorce – What Do We Share?

When you divorce, it is best that you try and agree what should be spilt, if you cannot the Court will make that decision.

After divorce there’s plenty to go through and much of that comes down to finances.

Financially speaking, divorce is mostly about the division of marital property (and debts).

Many couples today have complex financial portfolios that include many kinds of assets, and at first, figuring out how to divide everything fairly can seem overwhelmingly complicated.

For example, valuations of even the most common assets, such as property and bank accounts, cars, boats, and the like, can be points of contention in a divorce.

Then, there are investments and employee compensation plans–including life insurance policies, retirement plans, pensions, stock options, etc. which must also be inventoried and evaluated for the purpose of division in a settlement agreement.

Plus, there are many more types of assets to consider: valuable home furnishings, art, antiques, horses, wine collections, rare coins, classic cars. . . .  and if you or your husband have been given significant gifts, or have interests, passions or other ventures that you’ve invested in during the marriage, it’s likely these have resulted in marital assets that are now subject to division, as well.

Even if your wife has never shown any interest in your beloved collection of rare stamp first editions, don’t be surprised to hear her express a sudden attachment to it during a divorce.

Many women find there are marital assets that didn’t come immediately to mind, yet would have significant value or consequences should they fall to one or the other spouse. Please don’t forget that you may be entitled to:

Benefits from previous employers

Your check list should include stock options, restricted stock, pension plans) and deferred compensations plans from previous employers.

Capital loss carryover

Check tax returns for this one. If capital losses exceed capital gains, and also exceed the tax deduction allowable for a single year, the loss can be carried over to future years. If the loss occurred during the marriage, it is a mechanism for reducing tax liability and should be addressed in your divorce settlement.

Cemetery plots, or equivalent

Given that you’re divorcing, it’s a fair bet you’ve changed your mind about wanting to be buried by his side. A cemetery plot can have significant value and should be negotiated.

Collections and memorabilia

Think about what you have in storage, as well as on display in your home. Comic books, gold and silver coins, stamps, books, art and antiques are all potentially valuable items, as are some sports and election memorabilia. If an item or collection is specifically noted in your homeowner’s insurance policy, it’s probably important to your divorce settlement, as well. 

Country club, golf course and other memberships

It could be that your husband is the only golfer in the family, and that the club membership is not something you particularly valued during the marriage. However, many clubs require substantial initiation fees to join, as well as annual dues, presenting an asset to divide.

Gifts you gave each other during the marriage

Gifts received from each other while married are marital property, subject to division in divorce.

Gifts given before you were wed, such as your engagement ring, are separate property, but separate property can lose its separate property status if you commingle it with marital property or vice versa.

For example, if you re-title your separately owned flat by adding your wife as a co-owner or if you deposit the inheritance from your parents into a joint bank account with her, then that property will most likely now be considered marital property.

Intellectual property

This includes trademarks, patents, copyrights and royalty rights. While these may not have generated much income during your marriage, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Intellectual property rights should be specifically addressed in a divorce settlement agreement.

Lottery tickets

If a winning lottery ticket was bought during the marriage, the winnings are marital property.

Money loaned to others, payable to either spouse

For example, if your husband loaned his sister £10,000 during your marriage, the money she’ll pay back to him is subject to division in divorce.

Pets

Divorce law treat pets as property, not family members. Pets may be more commonly assigned to the spouse with a more flexible schedule, and/or who has historically taken care of the animal. If custody of a pet is important to you, make sure your lawyer knows to make it a priority.

Photographs and keepsakes

These are literally invaluable assets. With the prevalence of digital photography, it should be no problem for each of you to keep the entire library of recent family photos, but many of us still also have collections of older photographs and negatives. If necessary, make an agreement to share the cost of having them copied. You’ll also need to make arrangements about keepsakes that can’t be duplicated.

Retained earnings

This refers to the portion of corporate income that is retained by the corporation rather than paid out as dividends to shareholders. If your spouse owns a business, this is one of many things to watch out for.

Tax refunds

Depending what time of the year finds you in the thick of divorce settlement negotiations – or if the process spans more than one year – it could be surprisingly easy to overlook a pending or past tax refund.

Term life insurance

Whole life insurance policies with cash value are obviously subject to division, but term policies can also be important to negotiate. 

Travel reward program points

These can make for some nice luxury travel for the spouse that keeps them. 

Dividing personal possessions

It’s likely that one or both of you have a significant emotional attachment to your possessions, such as your:

  • Furniture,
  • Music collection, or
  • Shared family car

It might be hard if you can’t keep things that you believe you’re entitled to, but try and reach an agreement, if you can. Use mediation if necessary.

When thinking about furniture and cars, start by working out where you both will live after you separate.

Will you both need to furnish new properties? If so, dividing the furniture and big appliances so that you each keep some or buy some new ones can be a fair approach.

Go through the house, the garden shed and the garage and attic, and prepare a list of what’s there.

Then try to agree who gets as many of the items as you can.

There might be some things you can’t agree on. As a last resort, you could pick alternately from a list of what is left.

There is, to put it mildly, lots to consider, 

If you need any help call john on 01207654365

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