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How to prepare for property division during your divorce

Many people feel more organized when they make lists. If you are going into a divorce, jotting down items of marital property will help both you and your attorney sort the information properly.

Certain items may be classed as non-marital in nature and therefore not affected by the divorce because they are yours to keep. It is likely, however, that you have skipped over some assets that you should actually include on your list.

Non-marital assets

You need not list any assets you acquired prior to your marriage. Your engagement ring, for example, is yours and yours alone. The set of Hitchcock chairs your favorite uncle left you in his will are also yours because they are a legacy from your family. Although you acquired it during your marriage, you will also get to keep the gilded ormolu clock that was on your fireplace mantel because your spouse hates it and is happy for you to take it away. Anything you personally acquired after you and your spouse separated is also non-marital according to the law and therefore yours to keep.

Financial assets

If you and your spouse have joint checking accounts, credit card accounts or investment accounts, these are the types of assets that will have to undergo division. Prior to the divorce, you may want to set up separate accounts. Your attorney can tell you how best to go about this. A point of contention can arise if your spouse has spent money unwisely during an extramarital affair, for example but the court will hold the responsible party accountable when it comes to dividing property. 

Other assets to remember

Cemetery plots are marital property. So are your pets, Fido and Fluffy. Other marital property you must consider are country club or golf course memberships, gifts you and your spouse have given each other, winnings from a lottery ticket bought during your marriage and intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks and royalty rights. Other surprising marital assets will no doubt come to light as you work on your list. Your attorney will help identify any of these that you might have missed.

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