The most contentious battles in a divorce proceeding involve children – specifically custody, financial support, and visitation. The next touchy issue is the division of property. When it comes to assets, negotiating who gets what can be a complicated ordeal. If you are divorcing your spouse, you should hire an expert divorce attorney to evaluate your situation and help protect your rights.
Marital vs. Non-Marital Property
Before the division of property can commence, lawyers have to determine and agree on what is considered marital property and what is not. Fighting over property ownership is one of the reasons many divorces take forever to settle. It is crucial that you have a full understanding of what you can claim in a settlement and what rightly belongs to the other party.
Marital property is not limited to physical structures such as houses and buildings. The following are also considered joint property that is commonly divided during a divorce.
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement plans
- Credit card debts
Each state has its own set of guidelines on what is considered marital property. You should sit down with your lawyer and properly classify your belongings according to your state laws.
In general, all assets that were obtained before the wedding are considered non-marital property. However, if your spouse contributed to these assets during your marriage, the other party may have a partial claim to the said assets. Let’s say you purchased an investment plan when you were still single. Your partner contributed to that plan, and it continued to earn while you were married. All contributions and earnings during the marriage can be claimed as a joint asset and become part of the divorce settlement.
All assets that were obtained during the course of the marriage are considered marital property. In some states, even gifts given to one another are regarded as joint property. Marital property is usually split evenly. But in cases where an asset cannot be divided – like a house – the couple may agree to allow one spouse to keep it while giving up another asset in return. If you do not need the house, you could agree to give it to your ex in exchange for keeping full claim to their stocks or pension.
Separating marital and non-marital property during a divorce settlement can be difficult and painful as emotions come into play. More often than not, couples leave the negotiating table with so much animosity towards each other. An expert divorce attorney can negotiate on your behalf, so you do not have to face your ex and therefore keep emotions out of the equation.
Dividing Assets and Liabilities
Divorce lawyers will trade back and forth until a Marital Settlement Agreement is agreed upon by both parties. If the case goes to trial, it is the court that orders it. This agreement states how assets and liabilities should be divided. Assets include real estate properties, cars, pensions, bank accounts, and household belongings. Liabilities include credit card debts, mortgages, and personal loans acquired during the marriage.
How Assets and Debts are Split
No law requires assets and debts to be split evenly. The court may order one party to pay more debt or one party to receive more assets depending on many reasons. These include situations involving the following:
- One party contributed a more substantial portion of the assets into the marriage
- One party received a large portion of assets through inheritance
- One party spent money on an extramarital affair
An expert divorce attorney will fight for you so that you receive what is rightfully yours.
Who Gets to Keep the House?
If you have children, the parent who provides primary care usually gets to stay in the marital home. If there are no children involved, you can request that the other party leave. Without an agreement on who leaves and who stays, the court will decide for you.
How Do I Keep My Share?
If you or your spouse files for divorce, hire an expert lawyer right away! List down all your assets, debts, property and bank accounts and show them to your lawyer during the consultation. Whether you are putting assets or liabilities on the table, an experienced attorney can properly evaluate your situation and let you know what to expect. Division of property during a divorce settlement can be challenging. Here at The Clark Law Office, our veteran divorce lawyers in Michigan will make sure that you get what you deserve.