Throughout your life, you accumulate property. For many, this behavior extends back through childhood. People have vast collections of vintage toys, video games, comic books, and so on. Some bypass pop culture collections, instead acquiring art, antique jewelry, and other rare valuables.
When a couple gets divorced, they must decide what to do with their assets. Most states use an “equitable” property division model. Essentially, they give property to the most deserving spouse. If you have a collection that existed before the marriage, keeping it should not be much of a hassle. If, however, you live in a “community” property state, your collectibles could cause a problem.
Here is a broad overview of how the law classifies assets in a community property state, providing insight into how these rules will affect your collections.
Marital assets are owned by each spouse equally. Generally, this includes anything that either spouse purchased during the marriage. No matter how old your collection is, if you added any new pieces to it while you were married, those pieces technically belong to your partner as well.
Entitlement in a Community Property State
In any divorce, spouses must claim entitlement to property. Essentially, they argue for why something a piece of marital property should belong to them. If, for instance, one spouse primarily uses the minivan, they can claim that it is “theirs,” and they should be able to keep it.
In an equal property division state, both spouses are supposed to walk away with 50% of the marital assets. Therefore, when you are allowed to keep property, you must give your spouse half the value of that property.
This trade creates difficulty with your collections. The value of your pieces is not liquid; it is tied into the pieces themselves. Keeping the new coins, stamps, or comics in your collection may cost you thousands of dollars you simply don’t have.
Luckily, you have other options. Instead of paying your spouse directly, you can trade physical property to reach an even split. Unfortunately, however, some people are forced to sell property and split the profits with their spouses. Make sure you secure a good attorney to keep this from happening.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A good lawyer is there to negotiate fair terms in a divorce. They can work with the other spouse’s attorney on a deal that allows everyone to keep the property they deserve.
Moreover, your lawyer can help you bypass court altogether. You could, for instance, choose mediation instead. In this process, an attorney works for both parties, eliminating the need for either spouse to “win” or “lose.” Your mediator helps you both express your needs, keeping everyone cool, level-headed, and practical. Once you reach an agreement, you can feel comfortable knowing that you participated in all decisions, and nothing was forced on you.
Our firm is here to help with property division in your divorce. We are waiting to hear from you, so schedule time with us online or call us now at (702) 904-9898.