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Tips for viewing the big financial picture in divorce

“Wanting to get the whole thing over with” may be a common sentiment in divorce. However, a recent article reminds us why a divorce should be viewed as a business transaction, rather than an emotional obstacle or turning point.

For starters, it is important to have legal representation during a divorce proceeding. According to one commentator, it is common for one member of a couple to be less than forthright about one or more assets. Although hiding assets is a strong allegation, an attorney can utilize civil discovery techniques to obtain a complete financial picture of the marital estate.

Such discovery methods may include requests for production made to the other party, especially concerning income tax returns filed in the past three years. Another powerful tool is a subpoena that can be served on third parties, such as banks or financial institutions. A high-tech approach may also include using a smartphone or digital camera to record the personal property in a couple’s home.

Finally, an attorney may also utilize the skills of a forensic accountant. When bargaining over assets, valuation disputes might arise. One spouse may assert a lower value in order to justify a proposed asset division or exchange. Our family law firm also has experience with valuations and appraisals.

Only after all marital assets and debts have been disclosed can a party make an informed decision in property division divorce negotiations. That analysis will distinguish non-marital property, such as inheritances or assets acquired before the marriage. Keep in mind, however, that the other spouse may have a claim to any previously owned property that grew in value during the marriage, such as appreciation on previously owned assets.

Source: U.S. News, “Gray Divorce: What Women Who Divorce Later in Life Need to Know,” Debbie Carlson, July 21, 2016

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