For many couples considering a divorce, their overarching concern is to safeguard their financial security. Part of this process involves dividing up assets and property accumulated during the marriage.
But how do you go about this? Does the court take the lead on determining who gets the televisions, cars, and chinaware?
You’ll be surprised to learn that the courts really don’t prefer to get involved in dividing up personal property. Personal property is any property not permanently affixed to the ground. This can include jewelry, pots and pans, pets, cars, etc.
One of the biggest problems concerning the personal property is assessing its value. Many items that people possess have a high sentimental value but not an equivalent monetary value. The courts usually encourage couples to negotiate amongst themselves to determine who gets what.
In many instances, even using your attorney to negotiate for sentimental possessions can be costly. If you have to pay an attorney $200 an hour to help negotiate over an armoire that’s only worth $300, you have to consider — is it really worth the effort?
If the item does have monetary value and you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on who retains possession of the item, then an appraiser might be used to ascertain its value. Again, this can be costly if you have multiple items that you need to appraise.
So an appraiser determines the value. Then what? One approach would be to simply divide property based on the monetary value. For example, one spouse gets to keep the $1,200 computer and the other spouse gets to keep the $1,200 cutlery set.
Another option could be to sell all of your possessions in an estate or garage sale and divide the proceeds equally. This way, there’s no fretting about sentimental value.
The courts will take responsibility for dividing up assets like Roth IRAs, Simple IRAs, and 401(k) plans. And to divide a retirement account, your attorney will take the initiative by completing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).
If you and your spouse have a negative net worth or if paying for bills as a single income earner isn’t feasible, you may consider filing for bankruptcy along with your divorce. Depending on your income, you may be able to completely discharge many of your debts. Unfortunately, in Colorado, you won’t be able to discharge your student loans. And if you owe federal taxes, you won’t be able to escape Uncle Sam, no matter which state you reside in.
With the bankruptcy option, the courts may need to liquidate some of your possessions, so dividing your personal and real property (home, land, etc.) won’t be up to you initially.
Please contact our office for assistance. We offer a free consultation.
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