Breaking up is hard to do — but dividing the marital assets is often even harder. Unless you’ve been married for a very short period of time, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff with your spouse over the years. Now you have to divide it.

With that in mind, here are five tips that will make it easier:

  1. Hawaii does not have community property laws. That means that marital property is divided equitably, but not necessarily equally. If spouses can’t agree on how to split assets, the judge will take into consideration each spouse’s economic status, earning ability, health, age, the needs of dependent children and any attempt by one or both spouses to hide their assets when splitting up the assets.
  2. That being said, don’t try to hide your assets. The courts don’t just frown on it — they actively penalize it. You stand to lose whatever you tried to hide, even if you wouldn’t have lost it in the first place. Further, a judge can tack on penalties.
  3. Don’t overvalue your assets. For example, your boat may be your pride and joy and you might think it’s worth $50,000 (especially if you’ve put a lot of money into it). However, if it would only sell on the open market for $25,000, that’s how you should list it in the divorce papers. Overvaluing your assets will hurt you when it comes time to give your spouse his or her share of them. You have to find property that’s worth about the same to balance out the scales.
  4. Keep your attorney’s fees in mind when you’re arguing over little things. Sure, you might not want to replace all the living room furniture when you move out, but arguing with your spouse about it in court may cost you more than the furniture is worth. Save yourself the legal fees and buy new furniture instead.
  5. If you have a mortgage, get out of it. It might seem like an acceptable deal to let your spouse keep the family home in exchange for something else that you want — but only do it if your spouse can refinance without you. Otherwise, you’re legally still obligated for that debt no matter what your divorce papers say.

For more specific advice regarding property division and divorce, talk to an attorney today.

Source: FindLaw, “Hawaii Marital Property Laws,” accessed Aug. 03, 2017