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In my divorce, what do I include in my inventory of assets and liabilities?

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When you're preparing for a divorce, one of the most important things you'll do is compile a list of assets and liabilities that both you and your spouse have accumulated together during the marriage, as well as any other assets and liabilities that might be considered separate property under Texas law.

It's best to account for everything that can be considered an asset or a liability relatively early in the divorce process. If you fail to disclose an asset that your spouse is aware of, or even suspects you might have, the divorce could be delayed and complicated through the discovery process. The process, producing what officially is known as an Inventory and Appraisement, is one that our paralegals can expertly guide you through.

One reason it's done is to determine what is separate property, belonging solely to one person in the marriage, or community property, belonging to both of the people in the marriage. Texas is a community property state, meaning that with some notable exceptions - for instance, an inheritance or a gift to only one spouse - assets and liabilities acquired during a marriage are shared by the couple.

If there's an asset you believe should be separate property, it could take some time - and, perhaps, the involvement of a forensic accountant - to make a determination. Let's say a portion of one spouse's inheritance (that spouse's separate property) was used to make a down payment on a house purchased during the marriage. A portion of the house might be considered separate property, while the rest would be considered community property - certainly a more complicated scenario than if a couple earned money while married and took money earned during the marriage to make that same down payment. A judge could potentially order equitable reimbursement for the spouse using his or her separate property in this type of case.

Technically, every asset needs to be listed, so even if there's a forgotten-about bank account with a nominal amount in it, it still needs to be part of an inventory. There may also be retirement accounts or pension accounts that might not readily come to mind for someone who moves from job to job. Part of an inventory should include going through both parties' work histories to see if an asset like that might exist.

It's also possible, in determining assets, to consider jewelry and artwork. While it may not need to be something that's sold and liquidated in order to make sure there's a fair division of assets, it could be something that figures into the fairness equation depending to whom it's awarded.

At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we have a team that can help you with the reporting of assets and liabilities. While it's best to do as much homework as you can on your own, our paralegals can help you walk through the process efficiently. A divorce always has financial implications, after all - your complete inventory is an important step to ensuring that all your bases are covered.

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