When a couple lives a comfortable lifestyle, they may begin to take things for granted. In fact, it is common for one spouse to know much more about the true state of their finances than the other. If you were content to allow your spouse to handle the income and investments, you may regret not having taken a greater role in the management of your family's wealth.
Now that you are facing divorce, you may have concerns about the future. Will you have enough money to continue living in the way in which you are accustomed? How will you know if you are truly receiving your fair share of the marital assets?
Commonly overlooked assets
Without question, you already understand the importance of knowing the value of your real estate, cars, artwork and other obvious valuables. However, if you are concerned about the fair division of assets in your divorce, you will likely want to consider both the character (separate property or community property) and the valuation of some items that are not so obvious, for example:
- Business Ownership Interests: If one or both spouses own an interest in a business, the form of the business may provide for what should happen if that interest's owner is involved in a divorce. There may be a "buy-sell" agreement or bylaws which must be considered in such an event which greatly affect the value to be assigned to that property interest in the divorce.
- Investments: If your spouse has a portfolio that contains certain investments such as pre-IPO stock or concentrated equity positions, those items may carry contingencies that apply when transferred or distributed. You will want to understand those contingencies and how they will benefit or harm you financially.
- Life insurance: If you and your spouse have policies that have accumulated value over the years of your marriage, dividing that value may prove challenging without experienced advice.
- Lifestyle: You undoubtedly want to continue to live as closely as possible in the style to which you were accustomed throughout your marriage. Having a forensic accountant analyze the spending habits of you and your spouse may help you arrive at a fair settlement.
- Retirement Plans.
Of course, consideration for your retirement plans is something you will not want to overlook. You and your spouse may also wish to discuss the possibility of spousal support (post-divorce maintenance) if one of you has not worked outside the home during the marriage and otherwise qualifies for such support.
Your fair share
Bringing a marriage to an end can be stressful and frustrating, but some Texas couples make the mistake of rushing through the valuation to get the process over with. Doing so may result in years of struggle after the divorce as one or both of you deal with financial difficulties stemming from an inadequate or one-sided divorce settlement.
Additionally, when the financial stakes are high, divorcing spouses may hide or devalue assets to protect them from property division. You have a right to a fair assessment of all marital property so that you can move into your new life as securely as possible. A consultation with an experienced Board-Certified Expert Family Law attorney could be a wise investment of your time and available resources, considering all that is at stake.