If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you may have weighed several options for going through the process. You may be like many couples who prefer to keep the breakup simple and as amicable as possible, perhaps using collaboration or mediation to avoid a drawn-out court battle. As far as you know, things should go smoothly, but if this is your first experience at a marriage breakup, you may be unsure of what to expect.
While every marriage is unique and every divorce has its special circumstances, some issues commonly arise when most couples reach the point of dealing with the financial aspects of their marriages. If you fail to gain the appropriate information about these issues and secure legal advice that will protect your rights, you may find that your plans for an amicable breakup may quickly lose footing.
Asset division is more than furniture
In addition to determining the best interests of the children, much of the decision making in your divorce will involve the family finances. It is critical that you arrive at a settlement that will provide you with a fair share of your marital assets and leave your individual assets intact. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to get by in the early years after your divorce.
Some of the assets you will be dealing with during your negotiations may include these:
- Possession of the family home and other real estate
- Furniture and other tangible possessions
- Retirement accounts
Dividing retirement accounts without jeopardizing your future or risking penalties can be complicated, so it is wise to have professional help with this.
Taxes and debt
Virginia courts divide marital assets equitably, not necessarily equally, so you can bargain with your spouse if there are items you want. When the law refers to marital assets, it generally means those that you and your spouse acquired, separately or jointly, from the day you took your vows. The exceptions include inheritances and individual gifts. Debt is also a joint item. You and your spouse will need to determine a fair division of debts if you can't pay them off beforehand.
A final issue commonly causing disputes between divorcing spouses is taxes. Many divorce issues can carry considerable tax implications. The way you handle these assets and liabilities during your divorce can mean the difference between a hefty tax bill and a generous exemption or deduction. Even if you are negotiating your divorce privately with your spouse, you cannot underestimate the advice of a legal professional who has great experience handling these issues.