Dealing with complex property division issues in divorce

Divorce is not as always as simple as the media makes it seem. In matters of property division, all joint property is subject to division according to the rules of equitable distribution. Your spouse may have equal stakes in personal property or assets that you feel are rightfully yours.

Instead of engaging in all out war and raising the divorce stakes higher than necessary, consider an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation. Keep in mind the following information on property division and divorce.

Inventory all assets and debts

The end of a marriage means the end of shared legal responsibility for assets between you and your spouse. It is time for each of you to establish legal ownership of your fair portion of the marital property. The first step is to take an inventory of all the assets.

While it is marital property and not separate property that the property division phase of the divorce will deal with, it is also important to list all separate property, as well. You may want to show that you or your spouse never commingled the separate assets with the marital assets.

You must also decide who will take which debts. If your spouse has a credit card that he or she has maxed out, you may want to provide statements or receipts that indicate this. Other debts, such as car payments, may become the responsibility of the person who keeps the item.

Determine what you are willing to compromise

Once you know what is on the table, so to speak, you can assess the situation and decide before you begin negotiation what your priorities are. Try to avoid attaching emotional value to items and consider what a judge may say. This is where a mediator can be helpful because he or she knows what is realistic when it comes to property division and the law, and can direct you and your spouse in a settlement that a judge will agree is fair.