Dividing assets during a divorce

A major phase of every divorce is going through asset division when you and your spouse divide up the marital assets you’ve accumulated during your marriage. This can be one of the toughest parts of your divorce because there are financial considerations involved, as well as the emotional aspect of parting with property. No matter how stressful this process is, you and your spouse are both entitled to a fair portion of marital assets.

Here are some tips for dealing with the challenge of asset negotiations, how to get your fair share of marital property, and how you can get legal advice for your divorce.

Make an Inventory of Divorce Assets

At the beginning of your divorce, it’s important to get a clear picture of all the assets involved before you make any decisions. Building a proper inventory of all martial assets can help you know what’s at stake first, so you can later negotiate for the full value of what you’re owed.

When making a divorce inventory, be sure to include all assets, and indicate if each is community property or separate property—and don’t forget to include debts, too. You should also include a value for each item or asset. Values can be determined by:

  • Using the actual value if it’s cash, retirement, or another account
  • Hiring a professional appraiser
  • Using the sale value
  • Agreeing to an amount with your spouse

Once your inventory is complete, you’ll have a good platform to begin negotiating for the specific assets you’d like to retain, including sentimental items, a family home, or other real or personal property.

Things to Remember During Asset Division in Washington

After you’ve completed your divorce asset inventory, there are a few important things to consider to ensure that you receive your fair share during asset division:

  • Don’t forget about taxes. Before you agree to anything, consider the potential tax implications of your divorce settlement, especially if retirement accounts are being divided. Early withdrawals and other transactions can trigger significant tax penalties in some cases. You could be held responsible for those taxes, which could unexpectedly reduce your final settlement if you aren’t prepared. You may be able to ask for additional assets to make up for the tax burden.
  • Be willing to negotiate. If the court gets directly involved in dividing up your assets, it will divide up assets fairly, but it may not take into account your attachment to any particular property. Talk with your attorney about what you really value, and think about what you’re willing to fairly trade in exchange for something else.
  • Be cautious of hidden assets. Bear in mind that hiding assets is illegal. Failure to disclose certain assets can incur serious penalties during asset division and could even lead to jail time. Talk to your attorney if you have questions or believe that your spouse is hiding assets.

If you’ve had trouble negotiating, you could try mediation. By hiring a trained mediator as a part of the negotiations process, you get the help of a neutral third party to act as a go-between. However, this may not be appropriate for every divorce, especially if it’s a high-conflict or high-asset situation. Talk to your attorney about whether mediation is right for you because it could save you time and money.

If and your spouse still can’t come to an agreement, discuss your legal options with your attorney. You may need to go to trial to get what you’re owed.

Get Legal Help With Your Divorce From Our Washington Family Law Attorneys

If you have legal questions about your divorce and need to speak to an attorney, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here to serve you. To arrange a private consultation in our Bellevue office, use our online contact form to send an email today or call us at (425) 460-0550.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington