For many parties, dividing marital assets is one of the most confusing and stressful parts of divorce litigation. In most states, the marital estate includes assets and debts acquired from the date of marriage to the date divorce papers were filed. For example in Texas, community assets continue to grow until the divorce is finalized – even if the parties have been separated for many years. There are many exceptions, however. Sometimes, property that was gifted or inherited by one spouse may be deemed marital property if certain factors are met.
Once the marital property has been identified, you will have to determine its value and then figure out how to divide it between you and your spouse.
Many parties divide marital assets during divorce mediation in Texas. During divorce mediation, a third party neutral, called a mediator, will assist you and your spouse with negotiating a settlement agreement on your own terms. The mediator will not make decisions for you as a family court judge would. You are in control of whether you agree to a term or not.
To mediate the division of property, you will first need to identify all assets and debts that were acquired during your marriage and disclose those items to your attorney prior to mediation. Examples include your home, your vehicle, furniture, credit card debt, student loans, and a wide array of other assets and debts.
In the weeks leading up to mediation, collect all documentation you have on the items in the marital estate. Bring copies to mediation as well, and be prepared to explain each document to the mediator. These documents will greatly assist the mediator as he or she suggests ways to divide the marital estate.
Another important step is to call experts when necessary to value certain items. For example, if you and your spouse cannot agree on the value of the marital residence, have an appraiser give you an estimate to facilitate dividing the property.