You and your spouse may have acquired properties. When you decide to get a divorce, however, dividing these properties fairly could be a complicated process. Each party must get a fair share of their assets. In some cases, what’s fair may not feel fair to the people involved.
Going through a divorce can already be stressful, so you may need help from legal professionals. Working with a family law attorney is an ideal option to make the process easier.
Defining Marital Properties
Marital properties in the US refer to properties couples have acquired while they are married. The laws governing marital properties vary depending on the state where you live. Your state can be either the following:
Common law marital property states
Most states in the US follow the common law system where you can solely own a property you personally bought. In this framework, you and your spouse can own property if both your names are in the title. When you decide to get divorced, the court will decide how to distribute the properties.
Community marital property states
This legal framework follows the concept where all the assets you acquired as a married couple are considered as community property. You and your spouse have equal ownership of those properties. Additionally, properties you have acquired after ending your marriage are deemed separately owned.
The Court Divides Marital Properties During Divorce
Before the court grants your divorce, you need to divide your properties and debts first. You and your spouse can discuss which property goes to whom. If you can’t reach an agreement as a couple, the court can divide your marital properties.
The division of your properties depends on whether you live in common law marital property state or community marital property state. Expect that you may not get an equal split because the court has to determine which properties are marital and which are separate ones.
You may also need to present essential documents to prove ownership, especially if you have separate properties. Your attorney can help you process the necessary papers, so you can focus on other important matters.
Listing all your assets is one way to make the division process easier. You and your spouse can compare your lists to see if you have any disputes. Your assets may include:
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Real Estate
- Recreational vehicles and equipment
You must also determine the value of each property you have. Courts generally accept fair market value (FMV), or the worth of an item when you put it on the open market and not what you paid for it.
Proper Management of Marital Properties is Vital
Managing your marital properties well helps you divide them easily when getting a divorce. For instance, you may enter a prenuptial or premarital agreement before marriage. This clears out which properties are not subject to division upon divorce.
Always keep accurate and complete books and records to distinguish the properties you want to keep for yourself. These properties can be the ones you acquired before marriage or inheritance you received while married.
The property you owned before marriage can also be considered marital property, especially if its value increases during your marriage.
When you’re getting a divorce, you need to prepare yourself for all the stress you may face during the process. Understanding relevant legal matters can help you go through the divorce smoothly and allow you to receive a fair portion of the marital properties.