Dividing property and assets is not always so simple. Sometimes the couple owns assets that belonged to them as individuals before they were married. There may also be individual gifts or inheritances that were obtained during the marriage. Stocks, bonds, 401k plans and pensions can also be a challenging topic. An individual may have had a pension that was acquired before the marriage, but when the couple contributed to the pension together throughout the marriage, it can be difficult to decide how to distribute the pension. The division of these types assets may need to be decided in a court of law, especially if the couple is unable to come to a mutual agreement on their own.
There are many complex laws that dictate the rules of property distribution during a divorce. There may also be Federal tax implications that will need to be seriously considered prior to or immediately following asset distribution. Asset distribution laws will also vary widely among different states and may or may not be impacted by the divorce itself. Some states are community property states, while other states are equitable distribution states. Both types of property distribution have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to have an experienced attorney evaluate your situation to ensure that you receive a fair share of the marital assets.
Some of these issues may be completely avoidable if there is proper estate planning during the course of the relationship. Estate planning can simplify the process of property distribution in the event of a divorce or sudden death, yet is rarely considered at the onset of the relationship.