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401(k) is not off limits when negotiating property division

When a couple goes through a divorce in Lake County, it can be a difficult time, especially for a wife, who may have spent many years caring for the children and the household. When it comes to dividing marital property, it is important for women to understand what they can and cannot lay a claim to. This may take some research and the help of an independent financial expert, but women can receive a more equitable division by getting some basic education on marital property.

For example, each state has a specific guideline of what is deemed as separate property, meaning the property is owned specifically by that spouse, and therefore, not considered marital property. Generally, this is property that a spouse received as a gift, property listed in a prenuptial agreement, inheritances, some personal injury settlement funds and so forth.

One thing that a wife should not do is assume that she has no claim to her husband’s 401(k) or stock options. She should also seek out the advice of a professional financial planner instead of listening to her husband. It is important that the wife compiles a complete list of the property obtained during the marriage such as vacation homes, vintage automobiles and so forth. Wives should also be alert in case their husbands are trying to hide assets and marital property from them.

By taking the time to educate oneself, a wife can ensure that she receives a fair settlement and prevent her spouse from tricking her out of property. In such cases, it may be a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney who can advise her as to state laws and help her compile an accurate inventory of all marital assets.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband's 401(k) And Other Assets,” Jeff Landers, Aug. 8, 2013

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