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Take the stress out of property division with smart planning

When you are facing a divorce, the prospect of property division probably seems daunting, and you wonder how you will manage.

However, with advance planning and a commonsense approach, you can get through the property division phase of the divorce with less stress and more confidence than you anticipate.

Understanding the process

The assets you and your spouse own are subject to division during your divorce, and a listing must show which are marital, belonging to you both, and which are separate, meaning yours alone. Additionally, each asset must have a value attached. As to distribution, Virginia is an equitable division state, so you can expect a fair division of assets but not necessarily a 50-50 split.

Looking at assets

A checklist of marital assets might include real property, such as your primary residence plus a vacation home; personal property, such as your vehicles, computers, collectibles, home furnishings, jewelry and clothing items; and business assets, meaning your family business, a professional practice or perhaps a partnership. Your financial assets might include:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Cash on hand
  • Retirement accounts
  • 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Life insurance policies
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Trusts

Planning in advance

Prepare for property division by making a list of your marital assets and debts. Examples of the latter include your mortgage, joint credit card accounts and outstanding bills for services or goods. Provide the list to your attorney and keep a copy for yourself.

It is a good idea to establish separate checking and credit card accounts in your own name. If you have a joint checking account that you prefer to keep for the time being, you and your spouse should sign an agreement explaining the purpose for this account. If you have investments, freeze those accounts to ensure that neither of you will use the funds during the divorce process.

Reducing stress

Dividing marital property is not easy, but it will go much more smoothly with smart preparation. If you keep your emotions in check and think of property division as a business matter, you will reduce stress and find that you can manage the process more easily than you thought possible.

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