One of the key parts of divorce is dividing the assets you and your partner worked so hard to get. Bank accounts make for simple splits, but there are many more pieces of property that will take a bit more work to divvy up.

Businesses may come in as one of the most complicated assets to divide, depending on your spouse’s involvement. Married couples jointly own 3.7 million small businesses across the country, and anytime there’s a divorce inside that statistic, it may take a creative solution to come out the other side. While there are systems in place for valuing and dividing something so complicated, it’s just one of many assets that you’ll need to partition that aren’t as simple as moving some numbers around.

Equitable, not equal

New York is a state that works with equitable distribution. This means you’re probably not looking at a split down the middle. Instead, a judge will try to determine fair shares. The courts will look at a number of factors, including how long you were married, your individual contributions to the household and earning potential after the divorce.

Long division

How the courts split up specific things is another matter. Since you can’t cut many assets in half, there’s often a different approach:

  • Real estate property: Sharing the house may be on the table, but there are a few more options that are more likely. Once you get the value of the property, you may get the home while your spouse receives a larger share of other assets to offset the deal. You may also put the house on the market, making it possible to split the selling price into acceptable portions.
  • Business holdings: The courts may treat a business similarly to real estate property, but increased complexity could lead to additional options. If your partner is an integral part of the company, you could look at options for keeping them on in specific roles or carve off a division that they lead for separate, sole ownership.
  • Ongoing investments: Funds over time can be tricky because of the contributing elements in play. Even if you started a Roth IRA before you were married, which could make a portion of it a separate asset, contributing to it with commingled funds over time can bring it into the realm of shared assets. This means you’ll have to factor duration, contributions and growth into your equation.

Understanding how the courts could look to divide intricate assets can be an important part of your process. Make sure you get what you deserve when it comes time to find a solution for splitting elaborate property.