Divorce proceedings are often riddled with financial concerns. The outcome of your marriage dissolution can reshape your vision of the future, setting everything from your standard of living to how much debt you’ll have to carry. With so much on the line, you need to be prepared to address key legal issues in your divorce, including property division.
What you need to know about the property division process
On its face, the property division process can seem straightforward. Yet, it’s often fraught with nuances and contention. Therefore, before heading into your divorce negotiations or litigation, you need to gain a realistic perspective of what’s possible during the process. Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward:
- Marital property will be divided fairly: Under state law, marital property is to be divided equitably, meaning that it must be divided in a fair fashion. Keep in mind that this does not require equal distribution. Also, it’s crucial to be able to clearly articulate what’s marital property and what’s individually owned property, as the latter won’t be subject to division. The timing of an asset’s acquisition can be pivotal here, but so, too, can contributions that your spouse made to the asset, such as if they helped you renovate your business.
- There are various ways to deal with the family home: The family home isn’t always marital property, and when it’s not, it’ll be removed from the property division process. However, if the home is deemed to be a marital asset, which is the case in most divorces, you’ll have to figure out what to do with it. This might include selling it to a third party and splitting the proceeds with your spouse, bartering with your spouse to either acquire or relinquish the home in exchange for other marital assets or retain co-ownership as a way to continue to build equity.
- Marital debt is included in the process: Although much of the focus during the property division process is on marital assets, marital debts also have to be divided fairly. There may be some key points of contention here, such as which party took on the debt, which party benefited the most from the debt, and which party is better positioned to pay off the debt post-divorce.
- Contributions to the marriage will count: When looking at the property division process, a spouse’s contributions to the marriage will play a role. For example, if your spouse gave up their career to help raise your children, they’ll likely have an argument for spousal support. Improvements that they made to the family residence might also give them a greater stake in that asset. That’s why the property division process is highly fact-sensitive, and you need to know how to argue those facts in your favor.
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements might be controlling: If you and your spouse entered into one of these agreements, it’ll likely be binding on the issues at hand. However, if the agreement seems unfair, you might want to consider whether you can argue that the agreement should be deemed invalid.
Be prepared going into your divorce
Your future is on the line when you’re poised to enter divorce negotiations or litigation. To protect your future as much as possible, you need to take the time necessary to develop a comprehensive and aggressive legal strategy. Although that might leave you feeling on edge, you can find comfort in educating yourself about the process and determining what kind of help you need moving forward. Hopefully then you can devise the divorce strategy that you need to set yourself on course for a successful future.