If you are filing for divorce, you will want to be well-prepared for the property division phase of the proceedings.
You and your spouse should be clear about what is “mine, yours and ours,” and making a list is a good way to begin sorting it all out.
Separate versus community property
The court will view anything that belonged to you before you married as separate property, as well as an inheritance or anything that was a gift to you specifically during the marriage. For example, your separate property might include the portrait of your grandfather that your mom left to you when she passed away last year, or the pearl necklace that you inherited from your late aunt.
Joint assets and debts
On the other hand, any property you earned or acquired during your marriage is community property that belongs to both you and your spouse. This applies to debts as well. Community property would include the marital home, for instance, your joint checking and savings accounts and the investment assets you have had since your marriage.
There are many other assets to add to your list, such as your rare stamp collection, insurance policies, stock options, retirement plans and compensation plans from previous employers. If you and your spouse have a country club membership, add it to the list, and do not forget intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights or rights to royalties. Debts would include items such as your credit cards, or perhaps a loan repayment and your monthly obligations.
Assembling a team
That oil painting of your grandfather has considerable sentimental value, as does the pearl necklace. Make a note that since these items came to you during your marriage, the court will want evidence that they were given to you specifically and should not be subject to property division. Almost everything will require a valuation, and you would benefit by assembling a team of professionals to include an attorney, an appraiser and an accountant. These professionals can help with property division requirements and will be happy to begin their work using your list of assets and debts.