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Take a comprehensive approach to property division in divorce

Careful planning is necessary to reach a fair settlement in a divorce that involves significant assets. If you're expecting such a divorce, then you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of exactly what will be yours and what will be your ex-spouse's. Part of a divorce attorney's job is to help clarify and protect your rights to marital property.

One of the first things that needs to happen is to take an inventory of assets and debts. For example, maybe a mortgage needs to be addressed. Is it in your best interest to negotiate for the home, or is it better to come to an agreement with the other party to sell the property and split the proceeds?

In many cases, the values of insurance policies and retirement accounts have to be considered. Along with those, there may be tax implications that should be accounted for in the divorce settlement. Too often, one party thinks the deal is fair, yet the associated tax burdens linked to certain kinds of property cut deeply into its overall value.

If you have children, then you may have to decide whether your health insurance policy or your ex-spouse's provides the best coverage for the kids. Likewise, if you have a life insurance policy or a retirement account with a secondary beneficiary, you'll probably want to change beneficiary designations to ensure that your ex-spouse isn't the one who receives the funds.

Some basic things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure your attorney has reviewed any and all documents before you sign them.
  • Have an in-depth discussion with your attorney about all possible assets and debts that might be included as community property or separate property.
  • Understand your financial situation completely by developing a budget for now and after the divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Sudden Wealth From a Divorce?" David A. Dedman, Aug. 21, 2014

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