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Black couple having an argument - family law attorney - ZM Law Group

Keep a Cool Head During a Divorce or Separation

Talk to anyone who has gone through a separation or divorce and they will tell you it’s one of the hardest experiences a person can have. Sadly, family conflicts have escalated during the pandemic. Recent data shows a direct correlation between the rising divorce rates and an increase in loan inquiries stemming from the financial difficulties of separation and divorce. If this situation is familiar, then you need the assistance of a family law attorney to help you navigate the divorce process to empower you to minimize the financial pitfalls throughout your divorce journey. 

How Do I Figure Out Property Division?

Here are some steps you and your spouse should follow when thinking about the division of your property while working through your divorce:

1. Make a list of your assets

Start by creating an itemized list of assets to be divided. These assets are called Marital Property which are all assets purchased and acquired by either spouse during marriage. These items are things like real estate, vehicles,  insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement and pension accounts, and any other items or property with value of any kind.  Marital property includes jointly titled and individually titled assets. If you aren’t sure what should be counted as a marital asset vs. a non-marital asset then consult a divorce attorney with experience in the distribution of marital property in divorce matters.

2. Value the Property

It’s important to properly value the Marital Property. This is determined by the current market price, not the purchase price or the value it has to you. Market price is widely available in various sources such as internet resources and market research. Some items will need to be specially appraised by an authorized appraiser or an expert in the field. You and your spouse can also mutually agree on a value; however, this issue may become a source of contention. Therefore, it is important to engage an attorney to assist with this process. An improper valuation can be very costly in the long run and have unforeseen tax consequences. 

3. Discuss Ownership or Retention 

At this point, you can come to a mutual agreement about who will own or retain specific property after you separate or divorce. Begin with discussing the highest valued item and see how far you’re able to get working collaboratively on this process. Some items might be worth less but are very sentimental to one spouse over the other, so it’s important to work through this process with a level head. If this step creates a bottleneck for negotiations, seek the assistance of a family law attorney to help with this process. 

4. Get Legal Advice

While it may be possible to reach an amicable agreement, the process of negotiating between spouses can become very unproductive. Emotions can cloud everyone’s judgment making it impossible to move past certain issues. Ongoing conflict will derail any meaningful discussions making it impossible to move forward with a final resolution. A skilled Family Law Attorney can assist with deescalating the conflict by offering practical solutions and out-of-the-box alternatives which may lead to an amicable settlement. It is important to choose your legal counsel wisely in this situation. A collaborative approach is best in this situation.  

How Do I Separate the Finances?

Start by opening up a personal bank account if you don’t have one. This will allow you to maintain better control of your personal finances moving forward in the divorce process. It’s important to request a credit report so you can clearly identify debts and obligations respectively due and owing by both spouses. Joint debts and obligations, like a Mortgage or Car Loan, must be addressed and properly dealt with as soon as possible to minimize the long-term financial impact on both parties. There are many options available when separating finances, A Family Law attorney can help guide you through this process and help you make the best decision for your specific situation. 

Seek Professional Help from a Family Law Attorney

By following the above steps, you’ll give yourself and your family the best chance of preserving a secure financial future post-divorce. These steps can also help you and your spouse maintain an amicable and cooperative relationship which will serve you both well in the future. This is a pivotal time in your divorce journey, it is important to address the issues as quickly as possible. Divorce does not have to be tumultuous, it can be an amicable and respectful process where both parties can benefit from the collaborative process. Therefore, it’s important to choose your divorce lawyer wisely. A family law lawyer with a goal-oriented approach towards an amicable resolution may be better suited than someone focused only on resolution through litigation. Our Family Law attorneys at  ZM Law Group develop a tailor-made strategy for each case by listening to what you want to accomplish and we lead you through the divorce process every step of the way. 

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