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What do you need to do to divide your assets?

If you are in a marriage with a high number of assets and are considering a divorce, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and make sure you get the most out of your marriage. The first step is to start preparing for negotiations.

Start by writing down all your family assets. You'll need to determine the value and ownership of each item including real estate, investment accounts, retirement plans, pensions and other assets. You'll need to know the cost basis of each item if you want to be able to negotiate during the divorce; by knowing the cost, you can be sure you're getting a fair cut.

Determine your living expenses. When you get a divorce, you could be given alimony or spousal support by order of the court. However, to determine if you need this alimony, you'll need to be able to show your living expenses as they are currently, so you can show the lifestyle that you want to maintain.

The next step in your divorce is to work on your settlement negotiations. Depending on who put more into the marriage and equitable distribution laws, negotiations may be in favor of one spouse over the other. The point of an equitable distribution is not to be equal but to provide a fair distribution of assets in a marriage. That could mean that spousal support goes to one party or that the other party obtains more of the real estate property collected during the marriage. The court will decide on a fair distribution if you and your spouse cannot do so yourself; usually, working with your attorneys and a mediator if necessary helps move the case along faster than if you wait for the court's decision.

Source: Inside Indiana Business, "Getting Divorced? Understand The Money Issues," Elaine Bedel, accessed Oct. 12, 2016

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