In community property states like California, all assets acquired during marriage belong equally to both spouses, including property and debt. Thus, when a couple in California files for divorce, all community property must be split evenly between the parties. In other states, such as New York, property acquired during marriage is distributed "equitably," or fairly. In community property states, it may be difficult for couples to decide how to divide property in half, such as a house. In other states, it can be a challenge to determine how to split assets fairly.
In one high-profile New York divorce, an estranged couple has been fighting for more than a year over an art collection worth several hundred million dollars. The wife contends that her husband took $200 million worth of artwork from their home in order to hide the assets, and she claims that he has hidden assets offshore.
The court will likely order an appraiser to determine the value of all artwork belonging to the couple, but it will also need to determine which of the artwork constitutes marital property. Some of the artwork may belong to the husband's business, in which case the court will need to determine whether the wife contributed to the business and whether she is entitled to any of those assets.
In addition to artwork, the couple is battling it out over real estate properties. The judge instructed the parties to see if they could settle on an amount owed to each in the separation rather than specific properties.
Individuals going through a contentious divorce may feel overwhelmed by the process, particularly when it comes to property division and valuation of assets. A family law attorney may provide aid in all aspects of the separation process.