You agree that once you are divorced and separate your assets into these individual accounts you have sole control over them. You manage when to sell your shares of stock and have no say over what your ex-spouse does with his/her shares after the divorce. If you kept all your investments with Bernie Madoff and your ex-spouse pulled all of his/her investments, then post-divorce you are bummed and poor and your ex-spouse is not. The same is said for a small business. If your spouse got 100% of the business in the divorce because you thought the business was not worth much, and then the business takes off, you cannot claim you are entitled to some of that success. Once you give up your claim to something, no backsies.
During divorce mediation at Westfield Mediation, LLC, we recommend that couples get all of their assets valued by outside, objective sources. You want to understand with hard facts what you are giving up and what you are keeping. Many times, people don’t want to go through the effort and expense of getting pensions or businesses evaluated. Instead they often ballpark what they think it is worth and then trade one asset for another. I’ll keep my pension and you keep your 401(k). However, if they got their pension evaluated, they would see that this is not an even swap. Or you may think your business is worth x but really it is worth y. You keep the business worth $100,000 (so you think) but really it would be valued at $25,000 by a forensic accountant doing a business valuation. So, in the divorce settlement you end up giving up too much of your entitlement to your spouse’s retirement funds so you can keep your business. In order for you to truly swap one asset for another you need to know the actual value of it all.
For more information on divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.