Divorce: Watch out for these commonly overlooked assets
Divorce is a difficult process for many couples. For one thing, it is in many cases something that neither spouse has ever done before; it's a new and confusing process that many feel unprepared for. Furthermore, a separation can be further complicated by both spouses' raw and hurt feelings, which often abound during a divorce.
Property division is one area that often throws spouses for a loop. Without professional assistance, it can be difficult to quantify a couple's marital assets. While the house, cars and bank accounts are obvious, there are a number of smaller assets that are often overlooked. If these assets are not taken into consideration, the division of assets could be much less equitable than intended.
Travel rewards points, for example, are not always in the forefront of a spouse's mind when the time comes to divide the assets. And yet, they could be worth thousands of dollars; something to consider during the negotiations.
Tax refunds also deserve consideration. If the separation happens while a tax refund is pending, spouses should take care to factor this into their negotiations.
Spouses should remember to think about the fate of their pets, as well. In most cases, pets are treated as property, not people. Therefore, they will be subject to property division, just like all other assets. If a spouse wants to contest the ownership of a pet, he or she should tell his or her attorney to work it into the discussion.
Finally, spouses should think about the gifts they have given to each other. If a gift was given before the spouses were married, then it is separate property and will be retained by the recipient. Gifts given during the marriage, however, are treated as marital property and must be considered during the settlement, even if the gift was intended for use by only one person.
Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Don't Forget These Marital Assets" Jeff Landers, Oct. 16, 2013