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How well do you know your marital property?

Now that home sales have increased, the job market has shown sustained improvement and stocks are trending upward, even the most skeptical among us can say that much of the economic damage from the recent recession has been repaired.

While improving economic conditions like these will undoubtedly result in an increase in consumer spending, financial experts indicate that it will also likely lead to more divorces. The reason? Spouses are simply more comfortable with the notion of financial autonomy in a strong economy, meaning the idea of going it alone financially is no longer quite so intimidating.

As encouraging as this is, it's important for spouses to not rush headlong into divorce and instead proceed patiently and deliberately. This is especially true when it comes to the division of marital assets.

What steps can a person take to protect themselves concerning the division of marital assets?

Experts indicate that the best thing a person can do to protect themselves in property division matters is to have as complete of a financial picture as possible. This means securing copies of everything from bank statements and retirement account reports to household bills and tax returns.

What about personal property, some of which may not be apparent through paperwork?

Here, experts advise people to simply create an inventory that doesn't necessarily list things like bank accounts and real estate, but rather outlines things like furniture, antiques and other personal property of value (both real and sentimental).

When do the services of a financial professional like a forensic accountant come into play?

While experts indicate that retaining the services of a forensic accountant certainly isn't necessary for everyone, they do argue that it can come in handy where hard-to-value assets -- business valuation, stock options, etc. -- are concerned. Indeed, they also indicate that they can be valuable where a spouse suspects that their soon-to-be ex is hiding assets.

While some of these steps may perhaps seem obvious, a large number of people neglect to take them and, as a result, they may miss out on their fair share of martial assets.

To learn more about how to protect yourself during a divorce, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can enforce your rights and protect your best interests.  

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