Marital assets and liabilities need to be divided at the time of divorce. In New York State, marital property can be thought of as anything that was acquired during the marriage. On the asset side, these items may include automobiles, pensions and retirement accounts, real estate, a business, a degree, or even the appreciation of a business or other asset. On the liability side, marital debts could include student loans, credit card debt, IRS debt, or any other type of liability incurred during the marriage.
The first step is to simply make a list of all the marital assets and the marital liabilities. It is also a helpful exercise to attribute a value to each major asset, even if the value is an estimate. Often times, it may be useful to hire a real estate appraiser to value a piece of real estate or have an accountant determine the value of a business or stock options. There may some assets that are considered non-marital or separate property and therefore not subject to division. Our divorce mediators can sit down with a couple and explain these distinctions.
Once the assets and debts are itemized (identified, understood, and valued), then the negotiation process is a lot more productive because the couple has the information needed to make an educated and informed decision about what property they will keep and what property will be distributed to their spouse upon divorce. The Family Mediator is overseeing this process to ensure that each party does have a good grasp on the value and nature of the various assets and debts.
Distribution of assets is not always 50/50. Sometimes certain property has sentimental value to one of the parties. Often times, one party may be willing to take less than 50% of the assets in exchange for some other consideration such as the other party agreeing to pay spousal support, maintain insurance for a period of time, or take on more of the marital debt.
The great thing about dividing your property through mediation is that you have the opportunity to bargain and come up with a solution that you think is fair and appropriate. If you leave this task to a Judge, chances are he or she is not going to get detailed and nuanced about the property division. Although the Judge will make a decision intended to equitably divide the property – this particular division may not be as advantageous as if you and your partner are able to decide the division.
Our Divorce and Family Mediators will sit down with you and help you to identify the marital assets, understand the nature of the particular assets, value the assets, and divide the assets in a fair and balanced fashion.