If you're heading toward divorce proceedings as the new year begins, you can take some comfort in knowing that you're not alone. Divorce filings increase by as much as a third in January, even leading some people to call the first Monday of the month "Divorce Monday." (Since Monday's a legal holiday this year, perhaps we should call it "Divorce Tuesday.")
There's so much to think about: the kids, the house, bank accounts and debts-even your pets. It can be easy to overlook other important assets you and your spouse share. Make sure you don't forget these as you separate your joint property and place a value on the possessions you want to keep.
What are some smaller but still valuable assets?
- Memberships, especially to country clubs or golf clubs: whether you used the membership or your spouse did, it potentially holds a lot of monetary value because of initiation fees and annual dues.
- Credit card points, including travel reward points: if you earned air miles on a joint credit card and have accumulated thousands, the spouse who doesn't get to keep the miles should get something else in their place. You can place a monetary value on air miles.
- Photographs: while you may have almost everything in digital format that you can copy and share, do you have older photos you'd like to keep? School photos or portraits of the kids that don't exist digitally? Make arrangements for copies to be made and include that cost in the agreement.
- Collections and memorabilia: book collections, trading cards, anything that has value beyond simply sentimental.
- Tax refunds: if you're expecting a refund from a joint tax return for a previous year, note when you expect it and how it should be shared.
- Retirement accounts from previous employers, as well as any other forthcoming benefits: pensions, stock options, deferred compensation.
- Cemetery plots: if you've already purchased plots together, you may change your mind at this point. Any money already invested in these arrangements can be a significant amount and should be negotiated as part of your divorce settlement.
This list by no means covers everything, but it should help jog your memory as you organize your thoughts prior to the divorce process. If you have any questions about marital assets, talking with an experienced family law attorney will help during this stressful time.