While the general assumption is that matrimonial property will be divided equally between divorcing spouses, the reality is that a truly fair settlement may not be a 50-50 split. In one of our previous posts, we discussed how each spouse’s net family property is figured and how those figures are used to determine which spouse will make the equalization payment.
These determinations can be much more complicated when the spouses have acquired significant wealth over the course of a long marriage. Whether you’re dealing with business assets, real estate, retirement plans or stocks, it is important to have the help of a lawyer with experience in both family law and business law.
Accurate valuation of assets is crucial to reaching a fair divorce settlement, but there may be issues with actually locating all of the assets that should be considered. Unfortunately, sometimes spouses try to hide or undervalue assets in order to receive a larger spousal support payment or portion of the settlement. A lawyer with experience in handling these issues can help ensure a proper valuation of your assets and your spouse’s assets.
If you own a business, then it will be necessary to determine whether it has increased or dissipated in value during the course of the marriage. Did you own the business before you were married? If so, what was the value then, and what is the value now? Are there present or future liabilities — tax obligations, for example — to account for?
In any case, it is crucial that you have a legal advocate on your side to protect your interests. For more on addressing the value of a retirement plan at divorce, please see our previous post, “How will your pension figure into your divorce settlement?“