If you and your spouse have acquired considerable wealth, your divorce is likely to involve disputes about how to divide those assets appropriately. Since your future security and comfort will depend on that division of property, you certainly want to obtain your fair portion of marital assets whether you are divorcing through litigation or mediation.
While some assets are easier to divide, others are far more complex and may even carry the risk of financial penalties or fees. As you approach your divorce, it will be important for you to understand the potential ramifications of each step you take. Whether you and your spouse are maintaining civility or are at odds with every decision, you will want to understand your rights so you can adequately defend them.
Make these moves carefully
Your first step during asset division is understanding what property is on the table during the divorce. Some assets might be excluded from joint ownership, and this will make a difference in the outcome. Since New Jersey is a separate property state, you may have full ownership of any wealth you brought into the marriage, including inheritances or individual gifts, provided you did not combine them with joint assets. For your joint assets, you will probably be facing the following tasks:
- Obtaining a credit report to determine which debts are yours alone and which are joint responsibility
- Paying off as many joint debts as possible and closing those accounts
- Closing any accounts you cannot pay off and determining the most efficient way to handle those debts
- Opening a separate bank account and deciding with your spouse when and how to close your joint accounts
- Deciding what will happen to your home, whether you will sell it and split the proceeds, or if one of you will refinance and take over ownership
- Learning how to obtain a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) that will allow you to divide any assets in certain investment accounts
In fact, your investment assets can become quite complicated to divide and often incur costly fees to transfer funds from one account to another. You might also end up owing significant taxes after withdrawing money, so any decisions you make regarding these accounts are best handled with the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional. Having access to such resources is a smart way to ensure you are making informed decisions every step of the process.