Division of Property & Debt
It is important to remember that the Court recognizes a marriage as an economic partnership. When dividing property and debt during divorce proceedings, the court uses a four(4) step process:
Step 1: Identify the property.
We advise our clients to identify all property acquired during the marriage. It is important to include when and how the property was obtained. For example, was it an inheritance? A gift? Some examples of property to consider include:
- Real estate and property investments
- Automobiles, boats, campers and other recreational vehicles/equipment
- Financial assets (bank accounts, 401-k plans, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, etc.)
- Personal items of importance and value (ex. jewelry, golfing clubs, etc.)
Marital property and debt is defined as assets and debts in your marriage as of the date of filing for a divorce.
Non-marital property and debt is defined as assets and debts acquired before your marriage, as well as in some circumstances, gifts from a third party or an inheritance.
If you have any questions about the classification of property, please ask us.
Step 2: Evaluate the property.
The next step involves determining the value of your property and real estate. Although a home owner can testify to the value of their real estate, we typically like to get an opinion from an agent or an appraiser. We will discuss this in more detail during your consultation.
To get an idea of how your vehicle(s) will be assessed, visit a car evaluation website such as nada.com
For pension, retirement plans and financial accounts, be sure to keep track of your most recent statements. Many statements can be obtained from your online banking account.
The courts will value personal property at its “yard sale value” and not at its replacement value. In other words, the value others would pay for the item, not the value it was originally obtained at. Therefore, it is very important you document all your personal property in step one.
Step 3: Apportion what percentage of marital property each party receives.
Often times, attorneys advise clients to divide property on their own, if possible.
The court considers 15 favors when dividing property. It takes into account things from the contribution to the acquisition of the property, to the age and health of the parties, to the length of the marriage.
We will discuss the non-financial contributions to the marriage and the different factors that relate to the apportionment of property in your appointment.
Step 4: Distribute the property.
After we review your assets and its values, as well as discuss which items hold sentimental value or importance to you, we will sit down to develop a plan for the division of assets. This plan will offer a solution that gives you the most value and puts you at the best financial place you can be in after marriage.