Splitting assests, lawyer or not? - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

My soon to be ex wants to divorce without lawyers. I was ok with that until we sat down and talked about splitting assets and child custody. She feels she is being nice splitting equity from the house and banks accounts with me since I didn't earn anything being stay at home dad last 3 years. She blew up when I asked about retirement. She is letting me have the truck, owe 10000 and worth 24000. Equity and bank accounts will total around 50000 or 60000. She wants primary custody of our son, even though she has worked so much in the past she was hardly ever home. She is reluctant to let me have much of any of the rest of the assets. For those who did use a lawyer, is it worth the cost to get the extra?

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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:03 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. This is merely general information and education.

First rule for males in divorce: do not leave the house until a court orders you to do so. If anyone leaves, it is her, not you and not the kids.

You need to talk to several divorce lawyers in your state. Most will give you a free interview to see if you want to hire them. You should find out as much as you can during these interviews. Topics include:

what right do I have over her retirement plan assets?
how much custody am I likely to receive if we go to court and fight about it?
what amount of support is reasonable to ask for if I have been stay at home parent for several years and may need training before I can get a decent job?
how much will it likely cost if we have to go to court to work everything out?

Good luck. This is not easy. Information is power. So is caring enough about yourself to ask for what you deserve. So is not being so fearful of conflict that you concede issues before even trying to fight over them. Be strong. Standing up for yourself in the divorce is the first step on learning how to stand up for yourself in your next relationship.

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:03 PM
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My advice to you is, if you don't want to get completely screwed, get a lawyer. Quickly. She is going to try to bully you, coerce you and shame you into a deal that benefits her, not you. You would be better off stepping away and letting a lawyer do the fighting for you.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:16 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

In some cases where a couple is divorcing on very friendly terms, I think its possible to agree on what you want to have happen, then jointly go to a lawyer to help write that up in clear legal language.

Here though it sounds like there is already disagreement. In that case you should probably both have attorneys. Still, see if you can both try to agree to be reasonable or the attorneys may get more than either of you do.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:29 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

We used a mediator rather than a lawyer - probably saved about 50% as I needed a lawyer to do the retirement. I couldn't negotiate the legal process for that myself.

We did not have underage children and she did not want alimony, so there was not much to argue about.

If you think there is alimony involved that will not be easily agreed upon, I would agree that a lawyer is a good thing.

In my case every lawyer I talked to after going to the mediator would have caused rift and raised the cost beyond what was necessary.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:31 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

Btw - most states require 50/50 division of retirement. So don't let her bulldoze you on that.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 08:37 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

Mediation is fine if you are in the ballpark to start. It sounds like you are. Few divorces are decided by the judge. Usually the parties come to agreement outside of court, even if they've had expensive lawyers arguing in court. Know what you desire, know what would be acceptable, and know your absolute limits. Go to the mediator and start by asking for the moon. Then listen to her proposal and negotiate. Worst case is you don't find agreement. But you may resolve at least some of the issues.

Our mediator provided some information but it was not legal advice even though she was a lawyer. Things like "this is a typical way of calculating what it is worth", or "judges are typically happy with this but not that". So there was some guidance to keep us within bounds, plus of course providing the structure and safe space to discuss productively.

Generally you should end up pretty close to 50/50 on the net worth. Add up all assets and subtract all debts. Divide in half and that is what each of you get. In your example the truck counts as $14,000 net towards your half of the assets. Don't get caught up in the gross value or the loan balance, look at the net. Loans go with the asset, so car loans go with the car, mortgage goes with the house, etc.

Retirements are a bit tricky to calculate exactly, but generally you would get half of what it is worth today. If it is a 401k or IRA account then half would be transferred to your 401k or IRA. You can get burned with taxes if you don't transfer them directly. If it is a pension then you may need professional help calculating present value of the future expected payments. Taxes on investments and realtor costs on selling the home are details but probably not big numbers, so it may not be worth paying a CPA to figure those out. The mediator may give you some guidance on whether your situation warrants accountants.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with you hiring a lawyer to advise you from the sidelines. Even without your stbxw knowing about it. That is what I did, and it did help me negotiate with more confidence.

I highly recommend having a lawyer review all documents before you sign anything. With minor children involved it is important you get the documents airtight.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 10:51 PM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

As you probably know, there are two things you don't want, one is to give your spouse everything, the other is a bloodbath where the lawyers get everything. A mediator is a good idea. Others have suggested consulting a lawyer on the side, and this is fine if you can trust the lawyer. If you can't, he is likely to get you into a bloodbath with promises of stuff you will never get.

There are two ways you can trust someone, one is the person is so loyal he would never lie to you. The other is you know enough to know when he is lying to you.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:46 PM
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First rule of negotiations is to reject the first offer automatically, then reject the next two. If there is a fourth offer, most likely it will be fair.
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 03:05 AM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

@HotAirBaloon14

Do you now if your state is an community property state or an equitable distribution state? You can search online to find this out and to find out how things are normally split in divorce.

If it's a community property state, than everything that has been earned/accumulated during marriage is split 50/50. Separate property generally belongs to the spouse who owned it before marriage or inherited it after marriage. Retirement earned/saved during marriage is community property and split 50/50. You will probably need a lawyer to set this up.

Depending on how long your two have been married, if you have not been working you are probably entitled to spousal support or alimony. Generally during the divorce process, you can get what is called interim alimony, or spousal support. Then after the divorce you might be able to get at least rehabilitative spousal support to help you out until you find a job.

You can find tons of info about your state online. There are books in sold for each state so you can learn your rights.

With th way your wife is talking, you will need at least mediation so that your rights are protected.

Take advantage of the free time some lawyers will give you and get info.


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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 08:40 AM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

Edit: I should add that this is the relevant information for my state and could vary but likely not by *that* much.

Half of the accrued amount in the 401k is yours (IE if it existed before the marriage, that part stays hers and you split the rest). It might piss her off but it is something you are entitled to. In general, if there is one "primary breadwinner", that makes people feel entitled to assets just like "primary caregiver" makes people feel entitled to the children. Those feelings are largely irrelevant in divorce except where they indicate logistical problems (IE someone that works a lot of overtime doesn't have time to take care of children and someone that doesn't work can't support a house payment usually).

My STBX feels guilty for splitting my 401k since she didn't make much of a financial contribution to the family (and she thought of me and called me a miserly/greedy SOB for having retirement savings).
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

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Originally Posted by EleGirl View Post
@HotAirBaloon14



Do you now if your state is an community property state or an equitable distribution state? You can search online to find this out and to find out how things are normally split in divorce.



If it's a community property state, than everything that has been earned/accumulated during marriage is split 50/50. Separate property generally belongs to the spouse who owned it before marriage or inherited it after marriage. Retirement earned/saved during marriage is community property and split 50/50. You will probably need a lawyer to set this up.



Depending on how long your two have been married, if you have not been working you are probably entitled to spousal support or alimony. Generally during the divorce process, you can get what is called interim alimony, or spousal support. Then after the divorce you might be able to get at least rehabilitative spousal support to help you out until you find a job.



You can find tons of info about your state online. There are books in sold for each state so you can learn your rights.



With th way your wife is talking, you will need at least mediation so that your rights are protected.



Take advantage of the free time some lawyers will give you and get info.
Community state, its Texas.

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

She is actually trying to list the house for sale now, we havent agreed on anything yet. If she has filed she hasn't informed me about it yet, although I believe she is going to file this week.

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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 11:36 AM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

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Originally Posted by HotAirBaloon14 View Post
She is actually trying to list the house for sale now, we havent agreed on anything yet. If she has filed she hasn't informed me about it yet, although I believe she is going to file this week.

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If you can afford it get a lawyer, then ask about a mediator. Where do you stand on debt, retirement, alimony, child support, property and custody?

Each of those will tell you if you can do it yourself, mediation or need a lawyer before looking anything up.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 11:44 AM
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Re: Splitting assests, lawyer or not?

Your wife's attitude already sings of legal mediation at least... lawyers at best.

I had a fairly amicable end with everything on the table 30 years brings and it still required professional and competent legal oversight to ensure we were both being fair.

You are wrapping up a degree and will soon be in the workforce in a job with a demand, do not get fixated on dollars outside of what the law honors.

Money may be important to some, but it is not more important to custody.

I think your wife is being driven by more than she lets on, your goal is to stay as calm as a bullfighter while she runs herself tired against the cape of assets.

Remember, the bullfighter does not win by letting the bull hit them... the cape is real to the bull, a diversion for the fighter.

Fair custody should be your "Toro!".

Let legal law of community property handle all else... and that part is worth the several thousand in review.

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