During a divorce, the spouses’ marital assets – the assets acquired between the date of marriage and the date of divorce – must be divided according to the principle of equitable distribution. While there is a presumption that marital assets should be split 50/50, equitable does not necessarily mean equal, and failing to properly identify and value all of the couple’s marital assets can lead to an inequitable distribution and problems that can endure long after their divorce is final.
When representing divorcing spouses, attorney Mike Armstrong places particular emphasis on ensuring that the full value of the parties’ marital assets receives due consideration during property settlement negotiations or, if necessary, at trial. With the asset identification methods that are available and the costs (and limitations) involved in modifying a property settlement post-divorce, it is generally in both spouses’ best interests to ensure full disclosure and proper valuation of their marital assets during the divorce process. Mike relies on more than a decade of experience and works with trusted financial and forensic experts to help ensure that his clients receive their fair share in divorce.
The first step toward effecting an equitable distribution is to identify all of the assets that are on the table. Along with the spouses’ marital estate, each spouse will also own “separate assets” that are not subject to distribution in a divorce. These assets generally consist of any property and accounts owned prior to the marriage; however, there are several possible exceptions, and complicating factors (such as appreciation in value of separate assets during the marriage) can raise difficult questions as well.
As a matter of Arkansas law, each spouse is required to provide full disclosure of his or her assets during the divorce process. Each spouse also has the opportunity to request financial information during the “discovery” phase of their divorce, with the goal of both parties having a clear and equal understanding of the assets that are subject to distribution.
In some cases, however, one spouse may attempt to shield certain assets or income sources from the other. If you are concerned that your spouse may be hiding assets or income, Mike can use a number of different tools, such as account tracing and forensic accounting, to uncover his or her hidden financial resources.
Once all marital assets have been identified, they need to be valued. How much is your business worth? What about your house? What value should be placed on the portion of your spouse’s retirement plan that is subject to distribution in your divorce? There are often special procedures and considerations involved in valuing assets for purposes of a divorce, and Mike can make sure that your marital assets gets valued appropriately.
If you are preparing for a divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Attorney Mike Armstrong will be happy to meet with you personally to discuss the property and financial implications involved in bringing your marriage to an end. To meet with Mike in confidence, call our Bentonville, AR law offices at (479) 254-0135 or request an appointment online now.