Dividing the assets: accept now that you won’t get it all

Posted on Sep 13, 2013 by Katie Carter

You’re not going to get everything, so it’s probably a good idea to start thinking now about what you can realistically ask for in your divorce. It’s also a good idea to come to grips with the fact that your husband will probably get something that you wanted, because both people tend to want the truly valuable things. Houses, property, and expensive items of personal property (like cars or jewelry) can sometimes be pretty hotly contested.

I’ll say it again: you absolutely will not get everything. Even if your husband is at fault, the judge is not going to award you everything and leave him with nothing. The judge will look into the fault of either party when making a determination about how property should be divided, but that doesn’t mean that the judge will feel that, as a result of that fault, one party deserves a greater share than the other.

Most things are pretty easy to divide, because you won’t want his toolbox or his golf clubs, and he won’t want your stand mixer or your fancy linens. Most of the things in the home can be divided quickly and easily and without too much fuss. You take the living room set, and he’ll take the bedroom set. Those kinds of things are usually handled relatively easily.

Keep in mind, too, that the law dictates how some assets will be divided. If you or your husband owned a particular asset prior to marriage, it belongs to that person after the marriage is dissolved. Of course, when we’re talking about real estate, things can be more complicated. If your husband owned an empty piece of property prior to the marriage and then during the marriage you built a house on that property, you obviously have some ownership interest there. Still, remember that the property is still his, and so he will likely keep it all (though he will have to pay you back for your marital interest in the home). Likewise, anything that was given to you (by anyone other than your husband) either during or before the marriage is yours separately. Again, the same complications regarding real estate apply here.

Start thinking ahead of time about what you think would be a fair division of the assets. Prioritize the things you want the most, and try to determine where you think your husband’s priorities will be. This can help you head into settlement discussions with a good idea of what the assets are and how they could possibly be divided. Remember that a good, reasonable settlement is probably VERY close to 50/50 (and, if it weren’t he probably wouldn’t sign it because he would assume the judge would do something close to 50/50), so think of things that way. Being reasonable and thinking about these things ahead of time can help you save time, energy, and frustration later.