Often the divorcing couple doesn’t remember they have these items, or doesn’t consider them to be assets.
When you’re working through your divorce settlement, deciding who gets what, you are likely focusing on major considerations: house, cars, retirement accounts, investments. While these items are clearly important, many other assets are easily overlooked. Often the divorcing couple doesn’t remember they have these items, or doesn’t consider them to be assets.
Even if you think you don’t care about how they’re divided, keep in mind they have value; adding them to the pot not only increases the total amount of assets to be divided (which increases your share), but they also represent chips in your ongoing negotiation. If you were the more enthusiastic traveler in the marriage, for instance, you might be willing to give a little back on the home sale in order to secure frequent flier miles.
Here are some often overlooked assets to consider when you’re tallying up during a divorce:
Stock options: Your or your spouse may have stock options from your employer. This might seem like something with no value (particularly if they aren’t fully vested), but these options do have monetary value and can increase the total value of your joint assets.
Intellectual property: Copyright, patents, trademarks and even things like books that one of you has written—even if the copyright paperwork hasn’t been completed—have value.
Digital assets: Websites or blogs that either of you owns are assets. Even your social media accounts should be included in your settlement. Most likely, these accounts have no value (unless you have a large number of followers who have potential value for business reasons) but it’s important to establish who will own the accounts after the divorce.
Digital downloads: Movies, music, and e-books are expensive to replace, so be certain to include these items when tallying assets.
Frequent flyer miles and loyalty programs: You and your spouse probably have memberships in lots of loyalty programs and many of them accumulate points, particularly airline programs. Any loyalty program in either of your names is a marital asset and should be divided in the divorce.
Capital loss carryovers: Capital losses can be carried over from one year to the next on income taxes and such losses can reduce future taxes. If you are carrying a capital loss, make sure it is included in your settlement.
Loans: If you or your spouse has made personal loans to friends or family during the marriage using marital funds, the balance and interest due on those loans should be divided in your settlement.
Vacation pay: Paid time off accumulated at a job has a value and is a marital asset. Make sure this is taken into account.
Pets: Emotional attachments to pets can sometimes give rise to nasty “custody” battles, but beyond that aspect, your pet may also be a purebred or particularly valuable for some reason; if that’s the case, you should also include this in your list of assets.
Prepaid memberships: Any personal (for example, a gym) or professional memberships and subscriptions that have been paid for this year and for future years should be included if marital funds were used to pay for them.
Adding items to your total list of assets results in a larger total to divide and more for your half, but beyond that, thinking through what matters to you and to your soon-to-be ex can help devise a settlement that feels advantageous for both sides. A good lawyer can assist you in finding these “hidden” assets, and help decide what’s worth negotiating for as you work through your divorce.