Every state has different laws that govern the division of marital property. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to speak with an experienced family attorney in your area as early in the divorce process as you possibly can. If you are even thinking about getting divorced, it is a good idea to attend a risk-free consultation with an attorney because what you learn about marital property division laws and expectations in that consultation will help you to make informed financial decisions that could significantly impact you for the better in the event that you choose to divorce.
With that said, most asset division scenarios boil down to the idea that marital property must somehow be divided in ways that are either equal or equitable. Marital property can roughly be defined as all of the tangible, intangible, and financial assets that have been acquired since the marriage began. In community property states, any assets deemed marital property must be split 50-50. Inequitable division states, marital property must be divided “equitably” which doesn’t necessarily mean 50-50. For example, if a spouse has deferred their education to support the other spouse while they finished school, the first spouse may be granted spousal support on top of the roughly 50-50 asset division split to honor their contribution to the family’s wellbeing and the financial offset that occurred when they deferred their education in deference to their spouse’s educational needs.
How Your Marital Property Could Be Divided
As an experienced divorce lawyer – including those who practice at Robinson & Hadeed – can confirm, these broad generalizations of community property vs. equitable division states do not do justice to the nuances associated with each state’s marital division policies. As a result, it is important to meet with an attorney as soon as you can to discuss your state’s unique approach to this topic and your particular financial situation.
When preparing for this meeting, it can be helpful to make a list of all of the valuable, sentimental, and/or otherwise notable assets that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage. If you know the value of each asset, list it next to the description. If any assets are only in your name or your spouse’s name, note that too. Looking this list over will allow an attorney to give you a sense of how your asset division situation could potentially shake out.