How to Liquidate Assets During a Divorce

By Craig Woodman

Some assets may have to be liquidated during divorce to ensure that both spouses receive a fair and equitable split of the property. The process varies depending on state law, and it should be completed under court supervision to avoid illegally transferring an asset.

Make a List of All Assets

  • Make an itemized list of all assets accumulated during your marriage. 
  • List any you owned before the marriage separately, as well as any inherited assets given to only one spouse. These are usually non-marital assets, and they may not have to be divided in the divorce. 
  • Include retirement accounts and investment plans.

Tip

It's easiest to do this together if your divorce is amicable. If you're not on speaking terms, consider enlisting the help of a mediator or attorney.

Assign Values

  • You must agree on a value for each asset. 
  • Some items are simple to assign value to, or may have a low fair market value. These items typically aren't liquidated in divorce but are awarded to one spouse or the other. 
  • Real property should be appraised by a professional real estate appraiser.  
  • Items such as vehicles can be valued through online resources, such as Kelly Blue Book.
  • Specialty items, such as art collections or business assets, should be appraised by a professional with specific knowledge of these items.

Tip

Be sure to subtract the balance of any debts owed against the property, such as an auto loan against a vehicle. These debts must paid off before the property can be sold.

Determine What Needs to Be Liquidated

If an asset can't be divided fairly, such as a primary residence, it may have to be sold, the proceeds divided fairly and equitably between spouses.

The Liquidation Process

  • List real property with a real estate broker. 
  • Post ads in the newspaper or craigslist for high-valued personal property, such as vehicles and some furniture. 
  • Keep records of each item sold, including the sales price and where the proceeds went. 
  • Host a yard sale for smaller items or household goods, keeping track of sales prices and total cash received.
  • Consider using an auction house for larger quantities or specialty items.

Tip

  • Don't try to sell an item without your spouse's knowledge. This can result in sanctions from the court. 
  • Keep all sales visible and share information regularly with your spouse. This reduces the chances of dispute when property is divided in the divorce. 
  • Consider using a mediator or neutral third party to oversee the liquidation and ensure fairness.

About the Author

Craig Woodman began writing professionally in 2007. Woodman's articles have been published in "Professional Distributor" magazine and in various online publications. He has written extensively on automotive issues, business, personal finance and recreational vehicles. Woodman is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in finance through online education.

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