Splitting Marital Assets in Divorce: Are You Paying Attention to These Hidden Assets?

By December 22, 2022 No Comments

When you divide marital assets in a divorce, you’re likely to pay attention to the big-ticket items – the house, the cars, the investments, and so on. In the rush to divide up the big items, however, couples going through divorce often forget about less prominent items. These can add up to a great deal of money, too, however. If you aim for a fair split, you need to make sure that you don’t ignore the kind of items that often fly under the radar in divorce proceedings. It can help to have a list of commonly overlooked items to check through.


A 529 college plan

A 529 college plan can hold tens of thousands of dollars to fund your child’s college. However, your child doesn’t actually own the money; rather, your child only benefits from it for college. It is the parent who opens the account who really retains ownership. That parent is free to withdraw all the money from it to use as they please (subject to taxes and penalties). If your spouse controls the college plan and you believe they might withdraw the money for their own use, you need to make sure that it factors in your math when you decide how to split your assets in a divorce.


A capital loss carry-forward

You need to look into whether you incurred any capital losses as a couple in a previous year. Each year that followed, a part of that capital loss would be deductible from your income as a couple until the entire loss was accounted for. If both you and your spouse incurred the loss jointly, and then you got divorced, you would be entitled to half the capital loss carry-forward. It can be significant money, and you need to make sure that you consider it when you split your assets.


Low-value stock options

If your spouse owns stock options in some small-time startup, and they aren’t worth anything, you may be willing to overlook them when splitting your marital assets. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that worthless stock options in a minor startup could turn into something huge one day if the startup turns out to be successful. You want to ask for your share of whatever stock options your spouse may have. If you’re not aware of what stock options your spouse holds, you may need to obtaindiscovery of all the benefits and compensation your spouse receives from work.

Even once you do identify your spouse’s stock options, you need to be aware that it can be difficult to split them, because when they are granted to employees, they usually come with a no-transfer condition attached. However, your lawyer may be able to create a constructive trust to place the stock in. If they ever gain in value and are sold, you would be legally notified, and you would be able to ask for your share.


A country club membership

You might think that you wouldn’t ever want to be stuck with a country club membership that would require a costly membership fee to pay each year. You might be happy to give it to your spouse without dispute, for this reason. Memberships do cost a lot of money to obtain, however. This money would have come from your marital resources. When you give up the country club membership to your spouse, you would want to be adequately compensated for it.


Safe-deposit boxes

If your spouse has a safe deposit box containing valuables, you would want to determine what those valuables are worth and ask for your share. You would need to know where the safe-deposit box was, however, and have a key to it.

It would also make sense to locate any assets in possible storage units your spouse may have.


Points and miles

If you were well-off as a couple, you’re likely to have used your credit cards a lot, traveled, and earned plenty of points and miles along the way. You might think that the spouse paying back whatever is owed on the cards would deserve to keep the points. Points, however, are earned over a lifetime and can amount to far more than what is currently owedon the credit cards they came from. It’s important to ask for your share of whatever points and miles were part of your marriage.


Debts owed

If you owed money as a couple, you need to determine if any of those debts were incurred by your spouse alone. You wouldn’t want those debts to be split evenly in divorce. Otherwise, you would find yourself on the hook to repay loans you had nothing to do with.

If other people owe debts to your spouse and they will be repaid in the future, you need to account for those, as well. They could include money that came from marital funds.

Retirement accounts from short-term jobs

Retirement accounts don’t necessarily only come with long-term jobs. They can exist for short-term jobs, as well. You should make sure that any obscure retirement accounts from your spouse’s short-term jobs from the past are included in your asset split.



Your spouse may be the beneficiary of a trust that currently doesn’t pay them anything. You may wish to overlook such a trust in an asset split, for this reason.

Your spouse’s status as the beneficiary of a trust isn’t a marital asset in the strictest sense, either. But you do need to pursue the possibility that it could be worth something someday and negotiate based on its future worth.

Military benefits

If your spouse is or was in the military, you might be able to continue receiving their military benefits after divorce, healthcare included. The rules that allow you to keep these benefits can be burdensome, however. You would need to be married for at least 20 years to a spouse who has served for at least 20 years. In addition, 20 of these years should overlap. If you believe you might be eligible, you need to talk to a divorce lawyer who has experience in how military benefits work.



Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are secretive holdings and can gain great value overnight. It’s important to at least try to determine if there are any cryptocurrency holdings that could be part of the marital assets, and talk to your lawyer about splitting these holdings.


A tax refund

A tax refund could either be marital property or separate property, depending on when exactly your divorce is finalized.


Home value appreciation

If a home was purchased by your spouse prior to your marriage, you would not be able to ask to split it in divorce. However, if marital funds were used to improve or renovate the home and this work increased its market worth, the appreciation would be an asset to split.

Your divorce may be worth far more than what appears at first. Accounting for every valuable asset can help ensure that you receive your due and are well taken care of.