When most people enter a marriage, they aren’t thinking much about what’s theirs and what is their spouse’s. For a while, nobody keeps track.
Then trouble comes. Someone asks for a divorce. Now, both spouses are struggling to understand their financial situation and need to determine exactly what “counts” as marital assets (and is, therefore, subject to division).
While everyone’s situation is a little different, here are the most common marital assets people have (including a few that often get overlooked):
- Houses: Your home and vacation properties are probably marital assets (unless one of you purchased them prior to marriage and you didn’t both contribute to their upkeep or renovations). Even if a property was entirely in one party’s name, improvements done to that property or a jump in equity could make at least part of its value subject to division.
- Cars, boats and recreational vehicles: It’s smart to remember that even if these are titled in one party’s name, they may still be marital property.
- Stocks, bonds and retirement accounts: Even if one spouse was the spender and one was the saver, any stocks, bonds and retirement accounts acquired during the marriage are usually subject to division.
- Collectibles, artwork and antiques: Even if collecting sports memorabilia or coins was one spouse’s hobby, those are probably marital assets.
- Life insurance policies: Whole life policies can accumulate a significant amount of value — and that value should be factored into your negotiations.
- Frequent flyer miles, accumulated vacation pay and other “perks” of your job: This also includes bonuses that are soon to be paid and anything else that might have a cash value.
Sorting out what assets have to be divided and what is personal property isn’t always easy. If you gather up as many of your financial records as possible, a divorce attorney can help you sort it out.