Divorce and your financeEditor's Note: This is the second of a three-part series that will cover five key financial steps to take before entering divorce negotiations. Part One covered why a review of your credit report is essential.

With the obvious exception of child custody matters, dealing with the division of assets is always the main area of stress during divorce proceedings. Determining the real value of assets isn't always as easy as people would like to believe. But you can take concrete steps that will take at least some of the pain out of the process. Part One of this series explained what to do in the first step, checking your credit report. Here are steps two and three of the process.

2. List All of Your Assets: When getting a divorce, you need to tally all your financial assets so that you know where they are and what they're really worth. This often can serve as a wake-up call about what each party has to lose in the negotiations. Because both spouses will need to list all of their assets, forgotten pensions or stock-trading accounts that spouses may never have mentioned also need to be disclosed before the negotiations begin.

Carole Peck, a licensed certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) in Florida and Illinois, notes that married couples can sometimes use tax returns to determine assets that their partner has. Capital gains on all investments must be reported to the IRS, and that's generally done through the tax return. On a personal tax return, Schedule B (Interest and Ordinary Dividends) shows interest earned from any stock brokerage accounts or other investments that a spouse has.

Additionally, if your spouse owns a business, you'll need to gain access to its tax records to determine how profitable it has historically been, if possible. The business could be a valuable asset that produced significant income for allowing the married couple to maintain a particular lifestyle. For example, if one spouse had access to a company car that the business paid for, should she continue to get that perk after the divorce if the business isn't dissolved?

Compensation received from the business is also considered an asset. "If the business was paying your spouse $100,000 a year, and now that the divorce is coming they switch to paying $50,000, you must find out why," says Peck. "This could be creative accounting or might indicate money is being diverted to other places."

3. Have Assets Appraised: When dividing property, some jointly held items may have to be appraised to determine their real current value. The perceived value of assets such as furs, jewelry, paintings, memorabilia and family antiques can become sticking points during the settlement process. Peck says it may be necessary to prove what individual items are worth because your spouse may set a very high value for an item in the expectation that you'll have to give them cash compensation to keep it.

For example, if a husband owns sports memorabilia and his wife isn't a sports fan, she may claim the items in the collection are very valuable, when in fact, their true worth is rather modest. An appraisal will solve that conflict.

"You want to know what things are worth because you want to know if they are worth fighting for," says Peck. If a "treasured" family heirloom is only worth $500, you can reason that it's not really that important. However, if items are authentic and valuable, then the cost of insuring and safeguarding them may be factored into the settlement as well.

Noah Rosenfarb, a CDFA and managing director of Freedom Divorce Advisors in New Jersey, says he encourages his clients to educate themselves on the pros and cons of owning certain assets prior to getting a divorce. Some assets come with hidden costs and devaluation risks, so individuals should know what it may cost to own an asset over the long term before fighting hard to get it.

For example, Rosenfarb points out that many people going through divorces don't realize the risks involved in accepting money in retirement accounts. Money accepted in this manner is subject to taxation when you withdraw it, so it's actually worth less than its face value at the time you receive it. This becomes an extremely important consideration if one needs to use the money immediately -- early withdrawal penalties can reduce the settlement's value even more.

So before agreeing on a settlement, Rosenfarb warns: "Make sure that you do not take all of the assets where you must pay the burden of taxation while the other party is getting assets that are regular cash."

Coming Next: Part Three will cover the fourth and fifth steps in preparing your finances for a divorces -- projecting post-divorce expenses and determining child care costs.

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ktmishler

This just sounds like a woman bashing blog. Its not always the womans fault

July 31 2013 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jerseybobby1

well dont you think an attorney should tell there cient this well why does a ny lawyer do there job .new york lawyers suck . i told my daughter she should go to the bar ass. with hers. i feel he just sold out her. and she dont even go see the judge in buffalo so now he has to sign the divorve papers what a scame they put the judge in without even talking to the person

January 23 2011 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kng20

I am happyly married for the third time. 17 years now. First marriage lasted 14 years and the second lasted 13 years. First wife ran off with another guy and she did not get a red cent other then her beat up car. The second was another matter. She got so screwed up in the head that even after going to marriage counceling for 2 years the councler said "Give it up - it is useless for you to please her"
She ripped me off for 110,000. She has been married 3 or 4 times after me. I lost track and don't care. She is a mental case and just can't get her stuff together.
My advice - know everything there is to know about a potential mate before you say "I Do" I had known my 3rd wife for 30 years before we got married and we have a wonderful relationship.

January 23 2011 at 5:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Monty

go to www.funnydivorce.com you'll never get married again

January 23 2011 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wng2b

I am an Air Force and single at present .I need a woman who can love me back ..I also uploaded my hot photos on Uniformedmingle .C oM under the name of hoho212..It's the largest and best club for seeking Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Police Force, and the admirers of those who wear the uniform.I just hope you don't mind me being a soldier ...Please Check it out!I'm serious.

January 23 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wng2b's comment
good mourning

stay out these rooms if you are going to prostitute yourself out really.

January 23 2011 at 1:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
mikesi69

best thing is dont get married just screw the women and dump them thats the best advice

January 23 2011 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mikesi69's comment
good mourning

marriage is a good institution , and so is prision , some people cant stay out of either . i am a married type of institution .

January 23 2011 at 12:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
good mourning

mine told me she was going to take me to the cleaners , this is all i did wrote up a doccument giveing her it all except the crappiest car . so i could get back and forth to work . she still doesent understand why . even though i told her i d rather give it to her than the lawyers . less grief and stress . she was always a things person . i was never a things person . i even volentered to give her a little alimony. i was always good with my money and kept paying off her credit cards which most of all my checks went to her habbit . for years we make almost the same money . she is a nurse and i am a mechanic . she will loose everything to her crediters anyhow even though i paid 80 of the debt i now owe nothing have my own house paid for she is again swimming in debt. no point in fighting over money . in the right hands is a good thing and in the wrong its stress . my name is still on her house so the crediters wont take it . she got all she waunted and then some . and i still help her on occasion . hard lessoned learned her way .

January 23 2011 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
christieh

Before you get married -- Just buy her a house, give her 200,000 dollars, and save yourself a lot of grief.

January 23 2011 at 12:12 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to christieh's comment
Monty

and read the book at www.funnydivorce.com you'll never get married again.

January 23 2011 at 4:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
welchclock

When i lived in Helena Mt. I was dropping off a water heater at the dump. A woman pulled up along side me and rolled a Snapon tool box out into the pile. It was loaded with her soon to be Ex's tools All great stuff, picked up a grinder, cutting torch, two shotguns with extra barrels. and a remote control airplane with 48 inch wings. In my eyes she was Santa Claus, I'm not so sure he saw it that way. ho ho ho

January 22 2011 at 11:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
vcgh2000

The appraised value of an item is only worth the value assigned to an item if you have a buyer.
My son bought his wife a engagement ring appraised at $12,000....for $7,000...seeing it was in a platnum setting {over $2,000 an ounce at the time and was over a karat....he found out later it was only worth 4
-5 thousand in cash.
guess what i'm saying is that appraised value is meaningless with
out a buyer.

January 22 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply