The division of assets in a divorce can be difficult. Alongside the sensitive nature of the situation comes financial, property, and investment issues to be negotiated, which can quickly become complicated.
Expert advice from a family law specialist is needed to ensure you get the best out of a difficult situation. During divorce proceedings, one of the big questions on most people’s minds is how their assets will be divided. Getting professional guidance from a divorce lawyer on legal principles can help you to navigate the process more smoothly.
At the outset, it is imperative not to make any informal agreements about the division of assets with your spouse before obtaining legal advice. You cannot make an informed decision on any agreements or compromises to concede without full knowledge of your legal entitlements.
Sometimes, agreements surrounding asset division are reached informally between spouses, only for one spouse to change their position when legal advice is received. This creates an imbalance of expectations and makes the situation more acrimonious than it needs to be.
Presumption of Equal Sharing
Generally speaking, when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, everything that either spouse acquired during the relationship will be divided equally. That is the starting point before an assessment is undertaken as to whether any adjustments need to be made.
Exceptions to Equal Sharing
The most common exception to equal sharing is economic disparity. Economic disparity is traditionally where one spouse has stopped working to care for the children whilst the other continues to earn an income. In these circumstances, the spouse who stopped working may be entitled to a greater than 50% share of the pool of assets.
Another circumstance in which equal sharing may not be appropriate is if “exceptional circumstances exist that make equal sharing repugnant to justice”. This exception is generally only applicable to relationships that are shorter in duration, and there is a significant difference in the spousal contributions (financial and non-financial) to the relationship.
When dividing assets fairly upon separation, each asset is valued to determine what each spouse retains in dollar terms.
Some assets are easier to value than others. More liquid assets such as bank account balances are simple; businesses, on the other hand, pose a more complex situation in divorce proceedings.
There is an obligation on both spouses to provide full disclosure of all relevant information.
Equal disclosure of full asset banks would put spouses on equal terms, especially if one spouse was not as savvy regarding finances during the relationship.
There may also be assets that do not form part of the pool divided between separating spouses. These may be assets acquired before the relationship began and count as individually owned. However, there may be some scope for compensation if contributions have been made to that asset during the relationship.
Largely this asset class includes the division of property. The division of relationship property can be complex; therefore, it’s important to consult a legal specialist in this area, so you know your rights.
Get Expert Advice in Asset Division to Help You Through
It is important to see the bigger picture throughout the process of dividing assets in a divorce. Consider what compromises you are willing to make and what your “non-negotiables” are. This will be guided by the legal advice you receive. Therefore, it’s important to choose an experienced legal professional who cares about getting the best outcome for you.
Sharon Chandra has over ten years of experience as a family lawyer. Her track record as a regarded divorce lawyer has seen her speak at conferences, be interviewed in the media, and write for legal publications. Get in touch to discuss your situation with Sharon Chandra.