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Commonly overlooked property items in divorce

Certain property types are unlikely to be forgotten in a divorce proceeding. Joint accounts, for example, are an obvious example of an asset that requires attention during property division discussions. Other types of assets, however, may be less obvious.

A recent article highlights some of the property items that might not be addressed by a divorce decree. One item is any benefits that a spouse had from a previous employer. Although stock or retirement accounts held by a spouse prior to marriage might not be considered marital property, the appreciation that occurred in those securities during the marriage most likely are part of the marital estate. 

Depending on the length of the marriage, such appreciation in securities could have substantial value. Similarly, any capital loss carryover or other tax benefits that overlap with the marriage might also be eligible for property division. Tax refunds that have not yet been paid to a couple might also be forgotten in a divorce proceeding.

Other items may seem small, but nevertheless have large emotional value to divorcing spouses. Travel reward points from joint air mile accounts are one such example. Who wouldn’t like a vacation after going through a divorce proceeding? The value of antiques, jewelry, collections or other gifts made to spouses during a marriage are also fair game for property valuation and division.  Joint health club or country club memberships may also require attention.

The lesson that a divorce attorney might take away from this article is that property division is much more involved that divorcing couples might initially realize. Equitable distribution under California law might not always mean an equal split. Values of property items might be disputed. A spouse might have hidden assets. Fortunately, a divorce attorney experienced in such property division matters may have strategies for achieving a fair result for a divorcing spouse.

Source:, “Divorcing Women: Don't Forget These Marital Assets,” Jeff Landers, Oct. 16, 2013

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