Retirement accounts such as pensions, tax-deferred savings (401Ks, 403Bs, and IRAs), and tax-deferred annuities can also be divided to achieve the required equitable division of marital assets. Through the use of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) and letters of instructions, such accounts can be allocated between a divorcing couple without the income tax liability normally associated with an early withdrawal from a retirement account.
Other financial accounts such as checking, savings, brokerage and investment, money market, and certificates of deposit can also be divided between a divorcing couple to achieve the required equitable division of marital assets.
During the course of a marriage, a couple will probably acquire many personal belongings, including motor vehicles, furniture, jewelry, electronic equipment, tools, and many other items. At the time of the marriage, some of these belongings may be very valuable (such as a relatively new car not encumbered by a loan) and others may no longer be worth much (such as a 20-year old kitchen set). Neither courts nor attorneys really want to get into the minutia of deciding who gets what unless the couple cannot or will not work out the division themselves. There are a few general principles to keep in mind: items used by any children living in the home are likely to remain there for their use after the couple separates (their needs come before the desires of the parents) and the division should, taking into account all of the other assets being divided, be equitable.
Marital debt must also be considered in the equitable division of marital assets and liabilities. It is not important whose name is on a particular loan, credit card, or store charge; what matters is whether it was used for the benefit of the family as a whole or for that of the individual person. Thus, credit charges related to a family vacation will be considered marital while those related to a trip to the casino by one of the parties will not.