Divorce. It can be a difficult thing to make the decision, and to follow through. Understanding and accepting that it is over is an emotionally taxing process, and not knowing the legal ends can make it that much more. Contacting a family law attorney is a wise choice when it comes to divorce and the many types of court complaints you may file for during your divorce process.
With all of the emotional strain, attempting to understand every area of the divorce process an sometimes add to the hardship. However, your attorney will ask you to collect certain information in order to assess how the distribution of assets, both financial and material, may affect you. This information will help them in guiding you through the negotiation process and the actual court procedures. It will also assist them in explaining to you how assets are divided during divorce.
Houses, rental properties, stocks, retirement and/or pension plans, deferred compensation, businesses, professional practices, etc., can make the division of marital assets somewhat complicated or frustrating. This is true whether or not both parties are parting amicably. The current value of the property itself should not be the only point to consider when negotiating its division or sale.
The property’s liquidity, cost basis and taxable outcomes regarding its sale should further merit in-depth scrutiny. The main construct of property or asset division is based on the concept of separately owned, joint owned, and variable interest. The courts look at these forms of entitlement or primary ownership while rendering the final distribution judgment.
Separate property such as; inherited property, property owned before the marriage, personal injury settlements, and third party gifts are all examples of property that is not divisible. However, comingling of separate property will cause this exempt property to become joint, or “marital” property.
Circumstances such as; signing your significant other’s name to your previously owned property titles, depositing monetary gifts or inherited monies into a joint savings or checking account, or generally allowing your husband or wife to share an equal interest in what was your separate property. Once they have earned an interest or “share” in that property, it now becomes marital property.
Marital property consists of…everything else. Any real estate like cars, or boats, etc. Bonuses, commissions, or memberships. Pension plans, IRAs, 401Ks or any retirement plans. Deferred compensation or other forms of equity. Annuities, stocks & bonds, mutual funds, life insurance. And yes, checking accounts & savings accounts. Owned businesses or practices. It even includes art, antiques, and even tax refunds. Generally, anything acquired during the marriage, or comingled during the marriage, is divisible marital property.
Courts also consider a wide array of factors when deciding, who gets what? Factors such as the duration of the marriage, the contribution of both parties, the standard of living, the income earning potential of both parties, the ability to generate income immediately upon divorce, the contribution and reciprocation of support due to schooling or training, and what the custodial parent will need to sufficiently support the children. It is within these factors, among others, that a court decides and awards property during a divorce.
It is for these reasons that most people obtain a family law attorney to help them with keeping track of these assets, knowing what assets to track, and compiling an organized listing of these assets. One of the most critical aspects of understanding the outcomes and judgments rendered through the divorce proceedings, is that through experienced representation you stand a better chance of receiving a fair and just settlement.
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