Divorce means dividing assets. When you work with your spouse, through mediation or a collaborative approach, it means that you have more control over how that division takes place. You’re not just waiting for a judge to make a ruling.

This has obvious advantages, but it can get complicated when you’re dealing with more complex assets. It goes far beyond the traditional assets that people have, such as a bank account or a home. You’re talking about things like:

  • Pension plans from an employer
  • Personal retirement plans
  • Business assets
  • Vacation homes
  • Art collections
  • Money from an inheritance
  • High-value items like cars or boats
  • IRAs
  • Securities
  • Investment portfolios
  • Life insurance policies
  • And much more

When you start getting into things like this, it is critical that you know exactly what you own as a couple and how it can be divided. For instance, you may use a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to divide the value of your retirement fund or pension plan, even if it is in your spouse’s name. You may be able to divide your art collection without selling it, but you must have the pieces valued individually so that you know the split works. In some cases, the only choice is to sell expensive items and divide the money.

You can use mediation to do all of this, and you can retain that control. Just be sure you have the right paperwork and that you do your research in advance. You need to know exactly what steps to take so that you can avoid major financial errors and oversights.