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Do you have an inventory of marital property for your divorce?

The tradition of having one spouse in a marriage do all of the financial planning goes back a long time. In a way, it makes sense to divvy up responsibilities: people have different personalities and interests, and maybe one spouse is simply more inclined to keep up with accounts and make investments while the other spouse handles a variety of other family-related matters.

It's important to remember, though, that in a Pennsylvania divorce, the division of marital property and debts is not necessarily a 50-50 split. Our state distributes marital assets equitably and not necessarily equally, and spouses going through a divorce should be aware of what property is available for division, lest one spouse come out of negotiations with an uncertain financial future.

When one party is kept in the dark about financial matters, there is also the risk that the other spouse will hide assets in a divorce. Hiding assets is illegal, and it is a good idea to have an attorney with resources for identifying and evaluating marital property.

In divorces that are less contentious, it may be possible for the soon-to-be ex-spouses to work together to get on the same page in terms of who gets what. This might be especially important if children are involved, in which case the financial stability of both parents is important in order to support the kids.

Spouses going through a divorce should also be aware that the other party's retirement account, stock options, insurance policy and other assets acquired during the marriage may be divisible in a divorce agreement.

It may be a good idea, then, to make an inventory of the marital property to be divided.

Source: Forbes, "Women: Be Equal Partners In Marital Finances," Jeff Landers, Nov. 6, 2013

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