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Dividing Assets and Debts in a Divorce

When contemplating divorce, one of the largest pieces of the process is figuring out how to separate assets and debts. This part can be stressful and overwhelming but with the right support and an experienced divorce attorney helping you, it can easily be broken down into manageable steps.

Identifying the goods

The first step is identifying all marital assets and debts. Oftentimes, one spouse in a marriage takes care of the finances, leaving the other in the dark (not always intentionally). While it can be frustrating and possibly embarrassing to be the spouse in the dark, it’s an important truth to acknowledge. Fortunately, there are numerous options for identifying all assets and debts. The discovery process in Nebraska allows for both spouses and their attorneys to have access to all relevant information.

Organizing the information

Once we have a comprehensive list of assets and debts, we can begin separating them into categories. A large portion of this step is identifying assets and debts as marital or non-marital. Some assets, such as inheritance or assets you owned prior to the marriage, may not be considered marital and should be removed from any distribution of the marital estate. If one spouse received an inheritance during the marriage, whether it is considered marital or non-marital will depend on what happened to the inheritance when it was received.

Retirement Assets

Retirement accounts can be transferred between spouses in a divorce without tax implications when they are transferred properly and are therefore allocated separately from non-retirement assets. Starting a conversation with a newly designated financial planner during the divorce process can be helpful to assist in transitioning retirement funds and discussing your future.

Real Estate

Dealing with a home in a divorce can be stressful. If you own a home with your spouse and have equity in that home, usually you and your spouse are each entitled to half of the equity. If one spouse wants to keep the home, it may need to be refinanced to remove equity in the home and remove the other spouse’s name from the mortgage. It is important to speak with a mortgage lender early on to determine if refinancing is an option for one spouse. 


Debts are treated the same as assets and spouses are “awarded” debts just the same as assets. Gathering all your debt information, usually through a credit report, is vital to ensure that we can address any outstanding debts. Some debts may just be assigned to one spouse in a divorce, and some can be refinanced. Usually this depends on the amount of debt and the length of financing. 

It is important to speak with an experienced divorce attorney about your assets and debts before starting the divorce process, especially for individuals who have retirement accounts or own real estate. In some cases, there are actions you can take before filing for divorce to protect yourself and avoid irreparable mistakes down the road.

For more information contact Hightower Reff Law.

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