The legal process of divorce and the separation of assets is an involved matter that requires careful consideration by both spouses. Couples may find it beneficial to work together to create a property settlement agreement. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on their own, however, the judge will decide how to divide their estate based on state laws and what the judge feels is equitable.
While property division is a complex area of law, it can be simplified for couples by understanding the distinctions between separate and community property. Additionally, proper documentation of assets can help avoid hidden types of property that could result in negative legal consequences.
Marital property is any asset that a couple owns together, including real estate, cars, furniture and personal possessions. In addition to joint property, a married couple also shares responsibility for marital debts such as mortgages and credit card bills. In most cases, a judge will split a married couple’s property and debt evenly between them in a process called equitable distribution.
While there are some exceptions, most states follow a principle of equitable division when it comes to property settlement. This means that a judge will evaluate the couple’s assets and assign each party a percentage of the total value based on what seems fair or reasonable in their case. This does not necessarily mean that the judge will physically divide each asset, and a judge will allow one spouse to keep certain assets such as a family business or the home.
A common mistake in property settlement is failing to disclose all assets, particularly those that may be hidden or not easily discovered. It’s important to make a complete list of all your assets, as well as their estimated value. The most common method of valuing an asset is to start with its current market value, which is what it would sell for on the open market today, but some assets, such as a house, may require a professional appraisal.
Other factors that a court will take into consideration when dividing property include the length of the marriage, the spouses’ financial contributions, and any costs associated with separating particular types of assets. The court will also consider whether a spouse has been the primary caretaker of children, as this can affect a claim for child custody. Typically, a judge will ignore fault as a factor when dividing a marriage’s assets.
A divorce and family lawyer specializes in legal matters pertaining to family relationships, including divorce, child custody, spousal support, property division, and more. They possess in-depth knowledge of family law statutes, court procedures, and negotiation techniques. Their role is to advocate for your rights, protect your interests, and guide you through the legal process with professionalism and expertise.