Establishing and Dividing the Marital Estate

Establishing the Marital Estate

Before the marital estate can be divided between spouses, what to include in it must first be decided upon. Your attorney will explain that you and your spouse can try to agree on what will be included or let the law decide. There may be a certain item or debt that is particular to one spouse.

If these assets can be agreed to as such, they will be left out of the division of the marital estate and assigned to the appropriate spouse. If you cannot agree or are unsure about an item, it will be provisionally included in the marital estate summary until its value is established. If, upon valuation, the worth is relatively small, your lawyer will advise not to bother arguing over it with your spouse. 

Valuing the Marital Estate

Whatever has been included in the marital estate will next have a value assigned to it. Your lawyer will help you understand what to expect at this stage, as the valuation process can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the divorce. The fewer assets there are to value and divide, the swifter the process. If, though, you and your spouse have several articles of real property or substantial debt, the process will be much longer and more complex. Your lawyer will also be clear that it will only make the marital estate division more difficult if your relationship with your spouse is a particularly prickly one.

4 Step Overview of the Property Division Process

By discussing the following 4 steps with your attorney, you can learn how to divide your marital property fairly and effectively between both parties.