Forgetting something? The forgotten assets of divorce

Most people going through a divorce know that they will need to divide their assets and debts accumulated during their marriage.  Most people likely also understand that this can include the house they are living in, the bank account they use to pay their bills, the pots and pans in the kitchen, and that joint credit card.  But, it is important to know that the community may include many other nuanced and not-so-obvious assets and debts.

Here are a couple assets and debts that you should be careful to not overlook:

  • Accounts titled in one spouse’s name. A separately titled account in one spouse’s name may not be dispositive of how it will be divided in a divorce.  In many cases in Arizona, title on an account does not matter so long as the money or assets of that account was earned or acquired during the marriage.  This can include bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement accounts.  So, don’t neglect to divide these accounts just because your name is not on them.
  • Retirement/Employment benefits. There may be more than just 401K funds to divide in a divorce so do not assume that there are no other retirement or employee benefits to divide. Some not-so-obvious benefits that you may want to consider are:  future right to a pension, survivor benefit options, stock options, restricted stock units, unused vacation or sick days, etc.  Some of these can be valued and divided now in your divorce.
  • Personal Property. Valuable collections are another factor of the division of assets that is often overlooked. Special collections like art, guns or coins might seem like a small factor to others. But for the divorcing spouses it can be a major tug-of-war between the two. The division of valuable collections is a process that may involve appraisals and other methods to determine their value, but spouses are each entitled to a fair division of these assets.
  • Tax Carryovers and Estimated Payments. Don’t forget to take a look at your last tax returns to see if you have any carry over losses, overpayments of taxes or estimated quarterly payments already made which should be divided between the parties for future (presumably post-divorce) tax filings.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles and Credit Card Points. You know that credit card that you have had during the entire marriage?  Well it may have racked up quite a bit of points or miles over the years and those points and miles may have quite a substantial value that needs to be considered in any division. Don’t forget to look at your credit card statements to see if you or your spouse has any points/miles to divide.
  • Business Value/Goodwill. It may seem obvious to some that a business owned by a spouse may have a value that should be divided.  This is definitely true if the business is one that is readily saleable and like-kind businesses are sold with some frequency.  But, it is possible that any kind of a business created during the marriage has some sort of value.  The value could include the tangible assets of the business, value of the ongoing business/expected revenue, goodwill of the owner, and a number of other considerations.  It is important that one does not overlook all aspects of a business valuation in a divorce.

There are multiple forgotten assets that couples find the need to divide during their divorce process. A skilled divorce attorney with experience in handling these assists would be the first step towards getting a fair division at divorce.

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