How are a Couple’s Assets Divided During a Divorce?
Going through a divorce is often very difficult, as it requires two people to separate their lives after a period of bringing them together. While there are numerous legal matters to settle, a large part of this process is dividing the couple’s assets between the two of them. Sometimes, spouses are able to figure out this division amongst themselves. However, other couples may disagree and seek the assistance of the court to settle the matter for them.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
When a couple goes to court in order to divide their assets, a judge is appointed to make these decisions for them. In order to do this, they must determine which assets are considered marital property and which are separate property.
- Marital Property: Any assets and debts that were acquired during the couple’s marriage is considered marital property. This can also include any properties from before the marriage that is then converted into marital property during the marriage
- Separate Property: All assets and debts that were acquired before the marriage and agreed to stay separated are known as separate property. This may also include other properties, gifts, and inheritance
When understanding the difference between marital and separate property, it is also important to know what equitable distribution is. Often times, people believe their assets will be divided equally. However, this is not always the case. Assets that are subject to equitable distribution are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the two spouses. Generally, marital property is subject to equitable distribution while separate property usually is not.
When a judge determines the division of a couple’s assets, there are also several other factors that are considered. This allows the judge to make a fair division based on the couple’s situation. Factors that may be considered can include:
- The age and health of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Economic circumstances
- Each spouse’s contribution to marital property
- Any tax consequence that may apply
It is important to know that when a judge makes these decisions, they usually do not consider marital fault in the relationship. While this is true, they may consider if a spouse is at economic fault for the end of the marriage. If a spouse irresponsibly handled their assets during the marriage, the judge may sway in the favor of the more fiscally responsible spouse.
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If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.