Although every aspect of the divorce process is important, it's hard not to focus most of your time and attention on property division. The steps that you take to prepare yourself will impact how you negotiate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, as well as which assets you receive in your settlement.
Creating a property division checklist can help you organize both your separate and marital assets. When doing so, add your assets into the following four categories:
- Real property: Your marital home, vacation home, rental property, business real estate and undeveloped land.
- Personal property: Antiques, china, artwork, collections, furniture, guns, electronics, clothing, motor vehicles and boats.
- Financial assets: Bank accounts (checking and savings), retirement accounts, pensions, profit sharing, educational accounts, cash on hand, bonds, stocks, certificates of deposit (CDs), annuities, trusts and life insurance policy cash values.
- Business assets: Business equipment, business bank accounts and commercial real estate.
These are not the only assets that fit into each category, but this break down should give you a better idea of how to organize your situation.
In addition to the above, make special note of any assets that you brought into the marriage. For example, if you inherited money before your marriage and have kept it separate, it shouldn't be part of the property division process.
You never know what will happen when negotiating matters associated with property division. Organization is key, as this gives you a leg up as your divorce moves forward. When you combine this with knowledge of your legal rights, you can feel good about your ability to secure the assets you deserve.