When a couple who has not been married very long and does not have many assets, liabilities or children chooses to divorce, the process is relatively straightforward. However, for couples who have been together for some time and especially for those who have significant assets, divorce is rarely simple, even if both spouses want it to be.
With complex assets like real estate, businesses, or investments and retirement accounts, finding a truly fair way to divide them is a serious task, and not often an easy one. Unfortunately, it's not a part of the divorce process you can really choose to skip.
Under the eyes of the law, you and your spouse exist in a version of a business relationship, so you can't just call it quits, legally speaking. As "business partners" you both have a right and obligation to each other's property — both your assets and your liabilities. Until you reach a fair agreement on how each of these gets divided up, a court is unlikely to approve your divorce.
Consider meditation to streamline the process
Divorce mediation is useful for many reasons. Beyond creating a more calm and professional atmosphere than a courtroom might, mediation is usually less expensive in the long run, and also not dependent on the schedule of the court.
Through divorce mediation, you and your spouse can both understand the full scope of your assets and liabilities, and work together to create fair compromises so that each of you wins and each of you makes fair concessions. What might stretch out for months or years in court can often resolve in several sessions of divorce mediation.
Understand the true value of your assets
Part of what makes divorcing with complex assets difficult to understand is that some property are not pure assets, but usually carry some form of risk as well. Take, for instance, a home that you and your spouse own. While it is true that your home is certainly a huge asset, it also incurs property taxes and maintenance costs. These could easily add up to thousands of dollars every year, on top of your mortgage payment.
Furthermore, if you and your spouse bought the house jointly, you need to place it in only one person's name if you don't choose to sell it. This usually requires the spouse who keeps the house to refinance for a separate mortgage on their single income, often incurring less favorable mortgage terms and possibly raising the monthly payment.
Similarly, a spouse who owns a business faces a difficult task if they want to save the business from the divorce. The other spouse also may legitimately deserve a portion of the value of the business, depending on a number of factors. It is usually wise to have the business professionally valued to understand what it is truly worth before negotiating over a portion of its value.
Keep your financial matters private
Mediation is also a great tool for maintaining privacy. If you and your spouse have significant complex assets, you probably don't want information about these matters released as a part of public record.
By dealing with property division in mediation, you can keep the bulk of your divorce out of the courtroom and out of the eye of the public. This is usually much simpler than attempting to have the court seal the relevant records.
Your divorce does not have to be messy, even if it is complicated. You can use divorce mediation to achieve the divorce you want.