Let’s say you and your spouse both have worked hard in your careers to get where you are today. This may mean stock options, property, or large retirement funds to name a few assets you may own together. But what if “together” isn’t in the cards for you anymore? You will likely have questions about what will happen to your assets if you and your spouse were to separate in what would be known as a high asset divorce.
The best place to start is to look at your financial records. Start pulling tax records from the last few years. This will give you an overview of your annual income, both individually and as a couple. It will likely list big tax write-offs that will give you a hint of where to look for the rest of your assets. It is crucial that all assets and liabilities are accounted for before negotiating anything. This way you have an accurate portrayal of the value of these items that were once split between the two of you.
Once you know what property belongs to you, your spouse, and to both of you together, it is important that you separate marital from the non-marital property. For example, do not continue to pay for marital property (such as a home) with funds that may be considered non-marital property. For instance, if you received a personal injury settlement, do not use that money towards the mortgage. Personal injury settlements belong to the person who claimed them; it is not considered marital property.
Depending on the complexity of the financial account and whether or not records were well kept, it could affect the ease of this process. You may discover financial records about your spouse that you were not aware of. These records could affect the financial negotiations in a big way. Start digging into the details of your financial life together and it will likely all become clear.
Source: findlaw.com, “Managing Marital Property – Do’s and Dont’s,” Accessed Feb. 16, 2015