For many divorcing couples, property division is a complex process. From assigning everything a proper value, to uncovering hidden or forgotten assets, the couple faces numerous challenges from start to finish.
While every divorce is unique, there are often property division obstacles that the couple might face based on their history of asset acquisition and any planning for their collective financial future that occurred. For example:
- Digital assets: Over the past two decades, couples have turned toward digital versions of traditionally physical assets. One of the biggest examples is the couple’s entertainment collection. What used to be a display case filled with books, DVDs or CDs is now stored on a computer hard drive or in the cloud. Couples must carefully list and value these online assets so the two parties can accurately divide them.
- Intangible financial assets: These assets generally refer to financial items that do not have a direct physical counterpart. Retirement accounts, for example, and financial properties such as deferred compensation and military benefits are intangible.
- Online business: Historically, many couples started a family business out of a brick-and-mortar location. In recent years, however, more couples decide to start a digital business relying on social media, a strong web presence and online customer reviews. These online storefronts require the same attention that a physical location receives during the divorce.
Often, the first challenge is to determine whether the asset is marital or non-marital. This can apply to property or debt. If the couple had previously drafted a prenuptial agreement or maintained a post-nuptial agreement while married this process can run smoothly. Unfortunately, without these documents in place, property division could become an unnecessarily complex process.