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Get your fair share in the divorce

Ending a marriage causes a great deal of emotional distress, but divorce involves practical considerations, too. Property division may become one of the most complex and contentious aspects of your split.

You have a right to your fair share of the marital assets. Unfortunately, your spouse may take actions that prevent equitable property division. If your relationship has a history of deceit or your split has become acrimonious, watch out for the following:

Hidden assets

The more you know about your marital finances, the more difficult it is for your spouse to hide anything from you. If you have not paid attention to financial matters before, start now. Look through past tax returns and recent loan applications; both should list assets and their values. Small, tangible items such as jewelry and antique guns may be in a safe deposit box.

Dissipated assets

A spiteful spouse may purposely waste or lose marital money to avoid splitting it fairly. This practice, called dissipating assets, can take many forms. Your spouse may take money from a joint debit account and lose it gambling, buy extravagant gifts for people you do not know or sell joint property at a loss. If your partner has not typically done such things in the past, a court may see this as dissipation of assets.

Hard-to-value assets

Many divorcing couples disagree on the value of marital property. Your spouse may try to low-ball the worth of certain assets in order to obtain a more favorable settlement. Assets that can be especially difficult to value include privately held businesses, specialty real estate and niche items such as rare automobiles or art collections.

Certain actions and assets can make property division more difficult, but it is possible to leave your marriage with the settlement you deserve.

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