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Ensuring fair asset division by properly pricing possessions

For most couples, the two most contentious issues in a divorce will be the division of property and debts, and any arrangements regarding child custody. People who otherwise behave ethically may do some questionable things during divorce out of a need for justice or revenge. Hiding assets to skew the asset division is a relatively common practice.

The courts require that you create an inventory of your possessions for your divorce proceedings. That can result in your spouse potentially hiding assets to avoid splitting them or reporting their substantial value. Sometimes, assets get hidden in a manner than makes them easy to track down and easy to put a price on. After all, a hidden savings account will have a definite cash value. Other assets, however, aren't always as simple to put an accurate price on.

Hobbies could be hiding substantial assets

Does your spouse collect memorabilia, trading cards, art or classic cars? You may feel inclined to write that collection off as separate property, but how much of it was added during your marriage? Collectibles and other difficult to price items like fine art can have values of hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Purchasing them during your marriage was a use of marital assets, and that means that their current value or purchase price should be included in the inventory of your possessions. Determining the current market value of these kinds of items can be difficult, but it's important if you want a fair outcome to the asset division process.

Working with professionals can determine values

There are professionals who can look at and price all kinds of assets. Whether you're wondering about the value of some unimproved land or a limited edition classic baseball card, working with someone who knows the current market is invaluable. These valuation professionals can help you create an accurate and comprehensive asset inventory that shows how much money is tied up in unusual, but valuable, assets.

Although you probably don't want the classic car or your spouse's favorite sculpture, knowing their value can help you negotiate for fairer division of other assets, like your home equity and portion of the retirement account. The more thorough and accurate your inventory, the better your chances of receiving a fair portion of your marital assets.

Look for cash and other hidden assets

For many people considering divorce, it makes sense to have a forensic accountant go over your recent financial records. These professionals can determine if there is any amount of money getting withdrawn and either hidden in physical form, or stored in a secret bank account or investment account you were not aware existed.

The more you know, the more you can fight for a fair outcome to your divorce.

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