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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brooklyn Divorce Asset Division: Don't Overlook These Key Items

One of the greatest points of contention in any divorce is often how property will be divided. 

If your goal is to file for an uncontested divorce in Brooklyn, you and your soon-to-be-ex are going to need to be on the same page about how assets are going to be split. 

We have seen couples literally sit down with a checklist and hammer out each item, one-by-one. If your separation is an amicable one, this can be an easy, low-cost way to fairly divvy it all up. 

However, we do find that in the course of this process, there can be items that are overlooked or improperly evaluated. If the process starts to get too complex, you may want to seek help from a financial or legal professional to help you sort through the details. 

To begin with, understand that actual dollar values don't necessarily match what they might be on the surface. Let's say we're talking about a piece of real estate, a house, with an appraised value of $225,000. This could seem fairly straightforward, until you consider that you're actually underwater on it, having taken out a loan of $275,000. Or that approximately 10 percent of the sale price -- $25,000 in this case -- will be spent on the sale, including realtor fees and closing costs. Then you factor in rising property taxes and other factors, and this "asset" has become a liability. That's not to say that the two of you can't still reach a quick and reasonable agreement on the matter. It's just that both of you should have a full understanding of the shifting valuation. 

Of course, a house is one of those obvious assets that you're going to analyze. Where it can get especially tricky are those assets that are not necessarily tangible. 

For example, you don't want to forget benefits from former employers. Think retirement accounts such as 401Ks and pension plans, deferred compensation plans and stock options. Keep in mind again that the dollar amount of these accounts may be a bit misleading, so you may want to have them evaluated by a professional third-party. 

Beyond that, don't overlook memberships to things like golf courses and country clubs. You may never have cared much about this while you were married, but the truth is these clubs often cost a lot of money to join and maintain membership. In that sense, it becomes an asset to be divided. 

You'll also want to review any gifts you gave one another during the marriage. You may find those items aren't worth quibbling over (i.e., a piece of jewelry or clothing items). However, in some cases, these items have substantial value and they should not be overlooked. Even if you aren't interested in taking back the actual item, it can be considered a factor in how you divide other important assets. 

Don't forget also to take time to review any patents, trademarks, royalties or copyrights your spouse owns. Even if they aren't worth a lot now, they could be in the future, and you may want to make sure you continue to have a stake. 

Another item to keep in mind is money loaned to other people that will be repaid to your spouse. So let's say your spouse's brother borrowed $8,000 from you both during the marriage. He's continuing to pay that back to your spouse. You are entitled to a portion of that money. Inheritance is another matter that may add complexity.

Again, if you find some of this is getting to complicated or contentious, don't hesitate to ask for help from an experienced divorce lawyer, It may still be possible to have an uncontested divorce, but above all you want to make sure that your future is secure. 

If you are contemplating a divorce in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Divorcing Women: Don't Forget These Marital Assets, Oct. 16, 2013, By Jeff Landers, Forbes.com 

More Blog Entries:

Divorcing But Still in Business Together: Our Brooklyn Divorce Lawyers Weigh In, Sept. 13, 2013, Brooklyn Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Blog


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