When you have a divorce, how do you take care of things that are the family’s biggest investment? Divorce is not as simple as slamming the door and driving off. It is a bit tedious than that. The process includes dividing the assets and property each of you have accumulated during the marriage.
Property is one of the critical reasons for disagreement when couples part ways. As if the decision to separate wasn’t complicated enough, now you must decide how to divide your property, debts, and assets.
Obtaining a divorce is definitely achievable. However, it is the individual circumstances, which make the divorce process most difficult. This is where you might want to consult the expert Family Law Attorneys at Divorce Matters before filing a petition.
But, if you and your partner have been married for a few years with no shared investments, marital home, debts, and children, the procedure can take relatively little time.
This post will help you understand the fundamentals of assets’ division in divorce matters.
Basics of Property Division
In every divorce, couples must divide debt and marital property before the judge grants the request for a divorce. In such a situation, the couples are left with two options – ask the court to decide on their behalf, or work together to decide what asset each one will take away from the marriage.
If you live in a community property state, the court assumes any debt or property accumulated during the marriage goes equally to both spouses (50/50). But, if you have a separate property that’s yours, whether you bought it during your marriage or brought it with you to the marriage, you are required to ask the court to present the separate property to you.
On the other hand, if you live in equitable distribution state, the court will divide the marital property equally (fairly) between the spouses. However, it doesn’t always mean that it will be a 50-50 split. The court will review all your property and will categorize it as separate or marital before awarding any portion to either spouse. In case, if you have a property that belongs to you, you are required to prove your ownership with evidence such as witnesses, papers, receipts, etc.
Work With Your Ex-Spouse to Reach a Property Agreement
The court will respect any mutual decision you and your spouse have made considering the property distribution. If you want to keep control of how you divide your property and debts, you need to work your spouse, instead of letting the judge decide.
- Create a list of assets in the family – identity who will receive what in the divorce. Once you and your spouse have completed the list, it is time to compare and come to a mutual decision.
- Estimate your property – next, once you have listed down the family assets, you need to determine the value of the assets in the family. Typically, a court will accept FMV (fair market value) of each asset. Try to agree on the value of each item.
- Identify whether the property is separate or marital – whether you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state, the asset will remain in your possession if it is owned by you (separate property).
- Consider the debt – in the event of a divorce, marital debt isn’t left out. If you acquired a joint debt such as a tax debt, car payment, or a mortgage, you and your spouse would have to split it up in the event of divorce.
- Draft a settlement agreement – once you and your spouse have agreed upon the terms of debt and property division, create a property settlement agreement that must be presented to the judge.
When the two parties fail to come to an agreement with regard to property division, and spousal support, the court intervenes and holds mediation conferences. The mediator is the neutral, third-party attorney who helps in the process of negotiation and settlement, saving a whole lot of time and money.
If the couple decides to separate peacefully, the divorce is finalized. However, if the differences last, trials take place, and the judge ends the marriage on the terms, which she or he believes are best for both parties.