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Dividing property: The factors that play a role

If you're about to go through a divorce, you must understand how your assets will be divided. Dividing up your property can be difficult, and if you are emotionally attached to any of the items, then your partner could use this to his or her advantage. It's important to take the emotion out of this process. Dividing your assets is a business arrangement and nothing more.

Even in the most amicable of situations, it can be difficult to determine who should receive what from your marriage. The first step is to determine which assets you have and which are actually marital property. Property that you owned before your marriage, inheritances and other exempt assets may not be divided in divorce depending on how the court rules.

Generally speaking, marital property is any property you purchased or obtained during your marriage. Marital property includes items such as your 401k, retirement plans, stock options, checking and savings accounts, Christmas clubs, professional practices and licenses, art and even tax refunds. For items that are considered to be separate property, remember that if they increase in value during your marriage, that value may be considered to be marital property.

When your assets are being divided, something that will affect your case is your financial situation and the financial situation of your spouse. The court may consider several factors before determining the amount an equitable distribution would be. For example, the length of your marriage, both of your incomes, the contributions paid by one spouse for the other person's education or training and the income or property that was brought into the marriage will all play a role in determining what would be a fair division of property.

If you have an idea of how you want to split your property, your attorney can help you draw up a basic list for your spouse. If it's agreeable, then you both may be able to sign a property division agreement early and avoid heading to court over your assets.

Source: Forbes, "Understanding How Assets Get Divided In Divorce," Jeff Landers, accessed Oct. 27, 2016

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