Divorce & Property Divisions
Property division during divorce proceedings can be fairly complex. It is generally advised that both parties involved in the divorce consult an attorney as well as financial and tax professionals when resolving any property matters.
Property Division during divorce involves several legal issues, some of which include:
- The validity of the marriage – there are several situations where the validity of the marriage may need to be established. It is important to determine if it is a pre-existing marriage or a common-law arrangement, It is also important to figure out whether an annulment is legally more feasible, a legal separation or a divorce.
- Keep in mind the fees associated with divorce including attorney fees, court costs and other professional fees. Know the applicable state laws about who is obligated to pay what. When it comes to property division, provide a history and ownership of assets in case this information may become relevant in case of a trial.
- Know the date of separation as it may become important when determining the status of property and debts that may have been acquired after this date.
- Always make sure if any prenuptial agreements, property agreements or multiple agreements exist. If this is the case, division of property could be much simpler but if the agreement is not created properly, then it may not be valid. Thus, this information is important to ensure a fair property division between the spouses.
- In the southwestern states, community property law is more common. This law treats marriage like a partnership and in most cases, all property ownership is considered as joint-ownership. Other states follow the practice of equitable distribution that provides greater flexibility and where other factors such as duration of marriage and contribution of spouses are considered when determining a fair division of assets.
- Often, intangible assets are overlooked. Some people also try to conceal or skim assets. These things should be considered and one must ensure that all property has been identified.
There are several other factors to be considered. For example, if one spouse has worked more to advance the other’s education, they may have a right to reimbursement or a share of future earnings. Similarly, property that may have moved through a joint bank account may also be subject to division. Often, pets and keepsakes are also contested during property division.
It is always advisable to be properly informed and to ensure property is not undervalued or overlooked.