With the exception of custody matters for couples with children, property division issues are often the most emotional part of divorce. After years of building a life together, you have to dismantle your household and share it with one another. It can be very difficult to look objectively at your marital assets and debts and even harder to talk with your spouse about what each of you should keep in your divorce.
Every family has unique property and marital circumstances, and it is all but impossible to predict what may inspire an emotional response in someone during a divorce. However, there are certain assets that are more likely than others to trigger disputes during a divorce.
What hot-button assets require a very cautious approach in modern divorces?
1. The marital home
The house where you live is arguably the asset that has the most emotional value, with the possible exception of vacation homes where you may have spent the summer with your children. Real property tends to have both significant financial value and incalculable emotional value for divorcing spouses. Despite property division laws ensuring each spouse should receive a fair portion of home equity, people often start to think of retaining the home as the way of winning their divorce.
2. Companion animals
Although you might think of your dog or cat as a member of the family, that is not what the law says about your relationship. Technically, they are property, and they likely have far more emotional value than they do financial value. People sometimes get into major court battles over the possession of a pet during a divorce, which can end up being incredibly expensive.
3. Retirement accounts
What you save during your career determines your standard of living during your retirement. Having the restraints to consistently save can be a point of personal pride. The idea that your spouse could lay claim to a portion of your retirement savings when they never contributed to the account may seem unfair.
However, marital income, including retirement savings, is usually subject to division in a divorce. Instead of attaching emotional value to your retirement savings, need to focus on the financial needs that you will have when you retire after your divorce.
Identifying the property division issues that could likely trigger an intense, emotional dispute in your divorce can make it easier for you to minimize conflicts as you negotiate.