Making the Decisions
If the two spouses are able to amicably and mutually agree on the division of the martial assets, then the arrangement will simply be documented in the Separation Agreement and adhered to. Sometimes, the aid of a third party, such as a lawyer or mediator, can be used to obtain the mutual agreement. However, in such instances where cooperation is not attainable, it is necessary for this process to be completed via the court system.
The first step in any impending division would be to actually identify all of what constitutes the actual martial property. It is at this point that all joint bank accounts and credit cards, equity lines of credit, etc., would be closed, with the assets to be added in with the martial property to be divided up in the Separation Agreement or by the court. It is not unwise to actually document all pieces of martial property, such as stocks, bonds, cars, household furniture, a family business if applicable, cash value of insurance policies, and the like. At this time, a list of liabilities should also be collected for any and all outstanding debt. This would include mortgage payments, credit card obligations, home equity loans, personal loans as yet unpaid, etc. A fair and equitable distribution of the "martial debt" will go hand in hand with the martial property.
The next procedure would be to give each piece of property an actual fair market value, an actual monetary figure representative of what the actual property realistically could bring in an open market environment. In some cases, the future value of any particular property will also be given consideration. And the final step would be the actual distribution itself.
Resources & Tools
DATE OF SEPARATION – Depending upon the laws of the state of residence, the Date of Separation – called the DOS – has a profound impact on the eventual division and distribution of property and debt, including credit, pension benefits, and other marital assets. As of the DOS, the separated spouses are now in limbo legally and financially and remain so until the actual Date of Divorce. A great deal of money may be at stake. For example, one spouse may share responsibility for any debts incurred by the other; the value of a retirement plan or other marital asset, such as residential property, may fluctuate, often by thousands of dollars.
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