Dividing Property During Divorce
Before the court can grant a divorce request, couples are required to divide their assets and debts. Because of this, if you’re going through a divorce, you must understand how property is divided. Here are some factors that affect the division of property during divorce.
The first thing you need to consider when dividing property during a divorce is the applicable laws. If you reside in a community property state, the court will presume that any assets acquired during the marriage should be shared equally between the spouses. This means marital property is split evenly. However, in such cases, you can request the court to award separate property to you if it was property that you acquired before the marriage and you kept it separate during the marriage.
If you reside in an equitable distribution state, the court will divide property fairly between the spouses. This doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split. The court categorizes property as either marital or separate before awarding portions to either spouse. You need to prove ownership of a separate property with receipts or any other admissible evidence.
List of Assets
If you choose to work with your ex-spouse to divide the property and debts, you must agree on a property settlement. First, create a list of all the assets. Both of you should list the assets you acquired throughout the marriage, including pensions, retirement accounts, bank accounts, insurance policies, vehicles, real estate, and equipment.
It’s vital that you and your spouse are transparent regarding your assets. If you later realize that your spouse didn’t disclose an asset, you can request the court to reopen the case and reevaluate the asset division. The guilty spouse will lose some of their assets and could face penalties if they intentionally hid information or failed to disclose assets.
List of Debts
Asset division goes hand in hand with debt division. You need to identify the total debts you have as a couple. The next step is to categorize those debts as either joint or separate obligations.
The courts consider debts arising after marriage as community debt. Even if one spouse incurred the debt, the court will often order a 50/50 joint responsibility. The courts consider debts arising before marriage as a separate debt. In this case, a spouse will be held solely accountable for the debt they incurred before marriage.
In some cases, depending on the jurisdiction, a judge may bypass the community’s rules and separate debt. This means a court may divide debts based on which spouse is financially able to pay them.
Valuation of Property
An important consideration during the division of property is the fair market value of the assets. You’ll need to gather evidence on how much you paid for each item when you acquired it, and its current market value. The courts will look into how much each item is going for in the current market, not your initial investment.
When dealing with complex assets, you may have to hire an appraiser. Appraisers are usually hired when the valuation of assets includes antique collectibles, real estate property, and businesses. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on the value of an item, each of you may have to hire an appraiser and ask the judge to choose from the two valuations.
One of the most pertinent issues during a divorce is the division of property. The Law Offices of Lynda Latta LLC can help on how to reach an equitable property settlement with your spouse. However, if your spouse doesn’t cooperate, we can represent you in court and ensure you get a fair ruling. Call us now for a consultation meeting where we will review your options based on the circumstances of your case.