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Financial considerations in divorce

Maryland fans of actor Johnny Depp might have followed the breakup of his marriage to Amber Heard. It has also been reported that Depp would be selling some of the art he has collected since the 1990s. However, this is probably unrelated to the divorce since the two married in California. It is a community property state, and an asset like the paintings would probably be considered separately owned by him.

The value of assets like these are among many financial considerations a person must keep in mind in a divorce. Some couples cannot afford to divorce at all because housing or health insurance is too expensive on one income.

Another problem that may arise in divorce is unwanted publicity. Some wealthy couples may prefer an out-of-court settlement over litigation. A former General Electric head found the details of his $2.5 million annual retirement package splashed all over the media in 2003 during his divorce and ultimately decided to give up the package when the Securities and Exchange Commission began to investigate.

A person who was married for 10 years or more and does not remarry can claim Social Security benefits on the former spouse's earnings. If a large bonus or payout from work is due, a person may want to delay its payment until after the divorce.

An attorney may be able to discuss these and similar issues with a person who is considering divorce. Bringing as much information as possible regarding debt, income and assets to an initial meeting may help an attorney make some preliminary recommendations about how the divorce may proceed. This kind of planning may be particularly important in a high-asset divorce where issues may range from challenging prenuptial agreements to locating assets another spouse is trying to hide to identifying what counts as shared property.

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