One of the major sticking points in many Wisconsin divorces is the division of marital assets. As one of the nine states that follow a community property regime, Wisconsin’s laws dictate that marital property is presumed to be split 50-50. But the caveat is that there are many different ways to achieve that parity.
Below are some tips for splitting the community property from your marriage.
- Properly evaluate art and other collectibles. Dividing collectibles can be challenging because ascertaining their value can be tricky. While it might be fairly easy to determine the value for your Warhol, what about the lesser-known pieces of art you picked up over the years? The KISS pinball machine in the corner of your game room? The Depression-era glassware in the china cabinet? All these items have value, and to ensure a fair split, must be appraised by someone with knowledge of their true worth.
- Retirement accounts and pensions. The first thing you need to realize is that you will need to file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in order to access your spouse’s pension benefits or grant them access to yours. The divorce decree and property settlement judgment are insufficient to apportion these benefits after a divorce. The retirement accounts (along with the house) may comprise the biggest community property assets, so you need to negotiate strategically to get what you need from your property settlement.
- Other financial assets. Looping in your financial adviser during settlement negotiations is recommended to be sure that you are aware of all tax implications from proposed settlement offers. Don’t get blindsided next year at tax time because you skipped this step.
Remember, too, this is just your starting point. Each marriage and divorce are unique, and the property settlement should fairly represent both spouses’ interests. Working closely with your Milwaukee family law attorney can ensure you receive a fair share of the community property from your marriage.