Sometimes the little things mean more than the big ones. For example, many divorcing couples have no issue divvying up assets like cars and homes. They quickly agree to sell or buy out each other’s shares of these big-ticket items. However, they get caught up on the little details, like who gets to keep their communal Netflix account.
It’s actually a complicated question. Things like Netflix accounts, pets, engagement rings, and other non-divisible assets have a lot of emotional value but not always much financial worth. That can lead to serious arguments without an easy solution.
Still, handling these issues is essential if you want to finish up your divorce. Debates over your Netflix account can cause the process to drag out, wasting time and causing stress. Here’s what you need to know about these kinds of assets and how to split them up with fewer arguments.
The Issues with Non-Divisible Assets
Netflix accounts and other joint logins are problematic because they’re “non-divisible.” There’s no way to split up these joint accounts, but closing the account isn’t ideal either. The account can only go to one person or the other, but how should you decide who gets it? How much is it worth to them?
Those are the two big questions with non-divisible property: valuation and assignment. These considerations are different for every divorce and item. But why are they so complicated?
- Valuation: The biggest issue with most non-divisible assets is the question of how much they’re worth. Since these assets are often unique, putting a dollar value on them can be difficult. That makes it harder to determine how much they should be “worth” during asset division.
- Assignment: Because many non-divisible assets have no clear financial value attached, they are also difficult to assign. By nature, they can’t easily be split between the parties, so they are often given to one person outright. But without a dollar amount, it’s tricky to decide who should get the asset and what the other person should get in return.
Between trying to place a price tag on unique objects and deciding who should get what, non-divisible property is easily the most complicated part of many divorces.
Examples of Non-Divisible Assets in Divorce
There are many kinds of non-divisible assets, such as:
- Media accounts: Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu logins are an increasingly common point of contention in divorce. These accounts track user data to make recommendations and end-of-year playlists. They also can’t be split or valued. If both people want the account to preserve their viewing or listening history, at least one person is going to be disappointed.
- Engagement rings: While engagement rings can be appraised for an objective amount, their emotional value can’t be calculated. Unless both parties agree to sell an engagement ring, determining ownership in a divorce can be tricky.
- Artwork and heirlooms: Like engagement rings, other emotionally charged objects can be appraised but not split between two people. Determining ownership of art, antiques, and collections can be fraught if a couple acquired them together.
- Pets: As a living thing, pets are incredibly difficult to part with in a split. If both spouses want to keep a pet, it will take significant negotiation to determine who will actually take ownership after their breakup.
- RSUs: Restricted stock units are a valuable form of compensation that don’t necessarily have value until they’re fully vested. When couples split before RSUs vest, they need to determine how to value the RSUs to fairly divide their marital assets.
- Reward points: Credit cards, hotels, and other services often award points for use. These points may not have an objective value or an easy way to reassign ownership.
Each of these types of assets has its own unique considerations. That’s why they make an equitable divorce so complicated for judges.
Ways to Divide Non-Divisible Assets Fairly
There are several ways to equitably assign non-divisible assets. However, there’s no one “right way” for every divorce. Depending on the item and your situation, you may consider solutions such as these:
Get Rid of the Item
If you’re not particularly emotionally attached to an asset, the simplest solution is to get rid of it. Selling an engagement ring or turning in reward points for cash are easy ways to streamline your divorce. However, this only works if the asset can be sold or used, and neither person wants to keep it.
Look for Ways to Share
In some cases, it’s possible to share ownership of a non-divisible asset. For example, RSUs are often handled by assigning joint ownership to both spouses. You can also set up custody arrangements for pets if the animal can handle regular moves.
Offer a Trade
If you want sole ownership over a particular non-divisible asset, it’s time to negotiate. Your partner probably has things they’d particularly like to keep, too. You can offer to cede ownership of certain assets, such as a joint collection or a car, in exchange for the items you want to keep. If you’re careful with your negotiations, these trades can leave everyone happy with the results.
Get Outside Help
If nothing seems likely to work, it’s time to get some assistance. Working with an experienced lawyer and mediator can help you work through the asset division process with fewer arguments. The right assistance can also make it more likely that you get to keep the things that matter to you without giving up too much in return.
Get Help with Non-Divisible Assets Today
Whether you’re worried about your Netflix account or your RSUs, non-divisible assets are a significant sticking point in many divorces. Prepare yourself for these negotiations by contacting an experienced divorce attorney today.
The expert team at Kasper & Lugay, LLP, is prepared to help you navigate the murky waters of non-divisible property in your divorce. With years of experience, these qualified divorce lawyers will help you understand your assets and how they can and should be divided. They can also help you fight to keep the things that matter to you the most. Schedule your consultation today to discuss your situation and make sure your non-divisible assets are handled correctly