In obtaining a divorce, one aspect of settling issues related to your marriage is determining an appropriate division of your financial assets. This is an overwhelming task for many and is especially overwhelming if you, for whatever reason, were not involved or did not have access to your family’s finances during your marriage.
Do not despair if you are in this situation.
Often the first step to determining the division of your assets is to obtain copies of your financial records – present-day statements, statements from around your date of separation, and, if available for certain financial assets such as retirement accounts, statements from your date of marriage. If your circumstances allow for it, ask your spouse for this information – you are entitled to it. If you cannot easily obtain these statements from your spouse, however, that is also not the end of the world – there are ways you can obtain this information through filing a Court action.
Once you get this information, create an assets and liabilities spreadsheet. With your assets and liabilities spreadsheet, you can analyze your finances to determine an equitable division based on your family’s circumstances. Don’t forget to consider the differences between different types of financial accounts, such as whether accounts are funded with pre-tax or post-tax dollars– for example, trading a Roth IRA for a 401(k) needs to be analyzed carefully because one contains pre-tax dollars and the other contains post-tax dollars.
It’s never a bad idea, either before you obtain documents or after, to consult with an experienced family law attorney on a potential financial division to help you consider potential options (including creative ones) for an equitable division of your family’s assets.