You’ve decided on divorce, but you’re not sure how your assets will make it through the proceedings. You’re aware that the courts will split the things you own, but the actual process can be a bit more complicated than simple division.

A judge will be looking for an equitable division when addressing your property by looking at needs and contributions to the household and taking a sometimes exhaustive look at your assets. But before they draw the lines, you’ll have to get the canvas ready.

Property division en masse

There a few steps to take before the actual division can begin:

  • Identified: You’ll likely need to provide a list of assets for the court to consider. This can include simple items like your savings in the bank and credit card accounts. It will usually also include more complicated matters, like retirement accounts, deferred compensations and business stakes.
  • Valued: Again, counting what you have in the bank is probably not too difficult. But on more complex holdings, you’ll have to do some math. The courts will probably need to see price tags for increases in value on investments, improvements to real estate and eventual payouts on pensions.
  • Classified: Once all your assets are in a row, it’s generally time to see what is applicable for division. Separate assets are often yours to keep, while marital assets may need to be split. But it’s not always so cut and dry. You might assume an asset is separate because you owned it before marriage, but if you bolstered an investment with household income or your partner dedicated time to the business you started, your assets might intertwine.

Defining your equitable portion of shared assets can be a fairly complex problem to navigate. Knowing how the process can play out might be a step toward understanding how the courts will treat your property and give you time to prepare.