People fight over just about everything in a divorce, from houses and cars down to boxes full of cookie cutters. Everyone thinks of bank accounts, vacation homes, stocks, bonds, retirement annuities, and the like. These are the common and obvious assets. But they’re not the only ones.
Divorce settlements have a huge impact on your financial future. Because of that, it’s important to be thorough and do things right. Too often people leave potentially valuable items on the table because they simply don’t think about them or their worth.
With that in mind, here are a collection of unexpected marital assets that often go overlooked in divorce.
Many of us have credit cards where we earn airline miles or similar rewards every time we swipe. They’re convenient and come in handy for trips and vacations. And if they’re acquired during a marriage, they’re also considered marital property and subject to allocation. The actual division can be difficult. Some airlines assign a dollar value to miles, others don’t. This complicates things when it comes to establishing their value. Whether or not your particular program allows an account to be divided can also play a role.
People collect everything. If it exists, there’s probably an enthusiastic collector out there. Comic books, baseball cards, stamps, wine, sports memorabilia, coins, antiques, even the toys that come in a Happy Meal. These collections often have great sentimental importance. Beyond that, depending on what it is, they may also have a substantial monetary value. Depending on when you acquired them, these items factor into your divorce settlement.
It may sound morbid to consider the value of cemetery plots in a divorce, but have you priced them lately? They don’t come cheap. Since you likely don’t want to be buried next to your ex, unless we’re talking about a remarkably amicable split, this is one to put on the chopping block. Plots carry a substantial price tag and are an unexpected asset you shouldn’t overlook when it comes to the division of property.
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It may be a bit tricky to put a price tag on, but intellectual property can also factor into your divorce settlement. This can include everything from copyrights and patents to trademarks and more. They may not always be huge revenue makers, but they could in the future, or you may simply want to hang onto an idea you had. Timing may play a role in how the court divides these. For example, if you receive a patent early on in a marriage, but you did all of the legwork before the wedding, it may count as separate property. But if you derive a significant amount of money from it during the marriage, that may also be subject to division.
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Loans to Other People
Loaning money to friends and family can be a dicey proposition. Many of you have “loaned” someone money when you know you have no hope of getting it back, at least not any time soon. That said, money loaned during a divorce may come into play while you hash out a divorce settlement. For instance, if your ex loaned her brother $5000 from joint funds during the marriage, the money paid back can often be divided.
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You may not think of a country club membership as a shared asset, but it just might be. You may not even golf. But clubs, associations, and memberships like this often charge large sums, hundreds of dollars a month in some cases, to join and maintain that connection. These can come into play during a divorce. Some clubs have specific guidelines for divorcing members, though many will honor the couple’s ultimate decision. In some cases, you may have to re-apply for membership. Like other assets, you and your spouse will have to negotiate the terms and decide on how to divide the value.
This is far from an exhaustive list. We could go on and on. More than anything, let this serve as an illustration of why you should pay attention to the details during a divorce. You may miss out on substantial assets or vital bargaining chips because their worth simply isn’t as obvious and overt as others.
Coming to a divorce settlement is complicated. As with most legal issues, it may be in your best interest to hire or at least consult an attorney. An experienced professional can point out areas and assets you may not otherwise consider.
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