It’s a symbol of committing one’s life to another, a solid band of unity that declares that you are married. But what happens to the wedding ring when a couple gets divorced?
What About the Wedding Ring?
A wedding ring is one of the most identifiable pieces of a marriage. So when the marriage ends, it can be hard to know exactly what to do with the leftover and often expensive symbol of that marriage.
For some, it means putting the ring in a drawer or tossing into the ocean. Other choose to pass it down to their children. For others, depending on what state they are divorcing in, it becomes part of the marital property division process.
The first step you will need to do is have it appraised by a jeweler. Once you have a price for it, there are a number of options:
- sell it online through either eBay, Craigslist, or your local buy-sell-trade.
- donate it to a charity that both spouses agree on
- depending on the state the couple is divorcing in if the couple purchased the ring with shared finances, the ring(s) may be considered marital property and therefore, eligible for distribution between the spouses during divorce.
Dividing Marital Property
When it comes to dividing assets during a divorce there are various concerns you will need to deal with when it comes to dividing the marital property.
What State do you Live in?
State laws govern how the marital property will be divided. You will need to check with an attorney to see if you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state.
There are four other steps that need to be considered when diving marital property:
- Identify the assets owned by you and your spouse
- Categorize all assets as marital or non-marital property
- A value will need to be assigned to the assets
- Devise a plan for the division of assets that is in accordance with state laws
No Fault Divorce Laws
Though most states separate the division of marital property from grounds for divorce due to no fault divorce laws, most states do consider any financial misconduct when it comes to dividing marital property. What this means is if you or your spouse has foolishly spent money then you or your spouse will most likely be penalized when it comes to dividing marital property.
Separate Join Financial Obligations
If you feel the division of marital assets might be a contentious point between you are your spouse, you might want to consider separating financial obligations prior to starting the divorce process. Marital property does not only mean furniture and household items, but also joint credit accounts. Each spouse should have access to a complete set of all financial documents. You’ll also want to close all joint credit card accounts. If you’re not able to fully separate the accounts, draft a formal written agreement outlining the activity on the remaining joint accounts. Freeze any investment assets – this will ensure neither spouse misuses funds until everything has been agreed upon. You might also want to consider changing the title on your home to read “tenants in common” until the final agreement regarding marital property has been decided upon.
Often Overlooked During Division of Marital Property
Understanding your post-divorce financial needs and your current financial situation is vital to the process. Here are some items that can be overlooked – you’ll want to be an expert in all of them, and hire an attorney that is an expert at advising you about these items.
Understand what your cash flow situation will be – is your need immediate? Or is it not an issue at all? Will you need to sell some assets – bonds, stocks, mutual funds?
What are Your Joint Liabilities?
Do you have any joint liabilities such as outstanding tax liabilities on jointly-filed tax returns? Do you have any joint credit cards? Will a mortgage need to be refinanced? All of these things will need to be settled before the divorce is deemed final. That means you will need to either pay them off or transfer them completely to one spouse’s name. Running a credit report will also help you identify any outstanding debts.
Taxes on Assets
Review the tax impact of your investments. Though two assets might have the same dollar value, taxes can cause them to be vastly different. Are there any unrealized capital gains on taxable investments that might be due someday?
Previous Tax Returns
Review the last three to five years of tax returns that you have filed jointly. This will give you an idea of what needs to be considered in the negotiations. These can include capital loss carry-forwards, charitable contribution carry-forwards, or net-operating losses. “Tax assets” reduce future taxes. Because of that, they should be considered as an asset when the marital estate is split.
Dividing Retirement Assets
Retirement assets play a part and represent the couple’s net worth – or at least a portion of it. There are special rules that allow the transfer of them to be tax-free. You’ll need to work with a financial advisor that understands those special rules.
Though digital assets, such as pictures and videos that exist on computers or phones might not have financial value, they do have large emotional value. Arrange for both spouses to be able to access these assets.
Pasadena Marital Property Division Lawyer Expertise
The value of aligning yourself with an expert in marital property division will be highly beneficial as you maneuver through this difficult process. With over fourteen years of experience in dealing with Divorce and Family Law, the skilled attorneys at the Southern California Law Offices of Divorce Law LA are here to support you in categorizing what is marital and non-marital property, assigning value to your diverse assets and creating a plan for proper division based on California specific state laws.
As clean as this process can potentially go, certain circumstances may arise that will render a marital property division more difficult and painful than usual. A skilled attorney will assist you through challenging matters that may include a spouse’s irresponsible spending or participation in an illegal affair, which may result in their being penalized during the process of property division. Freezing and the division of joint assets such as co-signed mortgages, loans or combined credit, checking and savings accounts can be confusing and convoluted. The attorneys at the Southern California Law Offices of Divorce Law LA can assist you through this part of the process so that you maintain peace of mind and move in the direction of a favorable outcome.
Working with a Family Law Attorney
As with anything regarding your divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, child visitation, etc… you should consult a family law attorney. A lawyer from the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA will be able to guide you through the divorce process. The Divorce & Family Law Offices of Divorce Law LA will provide you with the highest level of expertise and professionalism from our skilled attorneys. Our Divorce and Family Law Practice spans a wide spectrum of areas that include: divorce, high net-worth divorce, marital property division, child custody and visitation, and child support.
33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202
Pasadena, Ca. 91106