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Equitable Distribution Division Of Assets

Splitting Assets During a Divorce

The property which is owned during a marriage, but before a divorce, can be classified in two basic ways. Classifying it correctly is important in order to achieve an equitable division of marital assets during the divorce. In some states, each spouse will have an immediate (and equal) ownership investment in all community property – that is, any property that the couple has gathered while they were married. This is not always the case everywhere. Each state will have its own laws about how community money and property must be divided, and it is important to follow these. Many states don’t have community property, and they will allow each spouse to buy and acquire individual money and property. This is all done in their own individual name and leaves the divorced spouse with no legal rights to their property. Some states divide by community property guidelines, others divide by individual property distribution.

Important Steps to Equitable Splitting of a Couple’s Assets

Decide which property is involved in the equitable distribution, and what the value of that property is, as well as how said property is currently distributed and how it needs to be distributed. Multiple factors should influence this decision. Each individual state will have their own laws about this process. Also, some states don’t have a law that specifies an equitable distribution of property. This means that you will likely need to speak with a skilled divorce lawyer in your state.

What Constitutes Property?

States that have laws about equitable distribution typically classify items as either separate, nonmarital, or marital property. Only the marital property is divided during equitable distribution. Some states, however, allow for property that is owned by either spouse to be distributed during this process. In these states, it doesn’t matter who bought it or when even if it was before the marriage ever took place. Usually, things that are considered marital property were acquired during the time the couple was married. The non-marital, or separate property, is kept apart from any equitable distribution. It often includes things like property that was purchased before the marriage, items that were owned before the marriage took place, and funds that can be proved to have been owned before the couple was married. Often these items are clearly laid out in a prenuptial agreement if they are sizeable. Any property that is given to a spouse, or inherited by a spouse while the couple is married, will be treated as if it is marital property if it is combined with any existing marital property. This is common with money, for example, if one is gifted a sum of money and then it is deposited into a jointly owned account and used by both parties in the marriage.

Value of Non-Marital Property Over the Life of the Marriage

Be sure to share with your divorce attorney any specific efforts that you made to improve your non-marital assets. This increase may need to be included in equitable distribution depending on the state you were married in.

Marital Debts

Marital debts are treated like property acquired during the marriage, and both partners are responsible for repaying these debts. Your attorney must protect you while you divide up these debts because if your defaults on any of these debts and they are joint, the creditor will just come after you for the payment. Lenders aren’t bound by the divorce agreement, so if the debt is joint, they will hound you for the money that is owed. The lenders don’t care at all about the divorce decree, so it’s important that any agreement that you make is backed up by your attorney, and that you are prepared to pay the amount that you agree upon in court after your divorce is final.Before going to court for a divorce, it’s important to know what kind of state you live in. Different states split marital assets differently, so it’s good to be prepared for how the assets that you and your partner possessed will be divided.

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