Property division is one of the most unpleasant aspects of getting divorced. Couples without children find themselves fighting over assets and heirlooms rather than children. Couples with children argue over who will keep the home in which to raise them. When dealing with division of property, it is important to get what you are entitled to based on existing laws. Expert divorce lawyers provide individuals and couples with a free consultation so they can learn their marital property rights.
Marital Property Division in Divorce
In general, property owned by one spouse prior to a marriage may remain property of that individual. This is good news for people entering a union with a substantial amount of assets, though having a lawyer for marital property draft a prenuptial agreement prior to exchanging vows is a good idea. Property acquired after the wedding is another story because it is usually subject to division during divorce and is normally classified as marital property.
Most couples cannot agree on division of property when they divorce so the issue goes to court. In a handful of states, all property accumulated during a marriage is designated as community property. This is usually evenly divided between the couple based on the total value of the marital estate. Other states follow a rule of equitable distribution, allowing a judge to determine a fair distribution method rather than automatically splitting property in half.
Property is not the only thing divided during divorce. If the couple has debts, these will also be divided. This is where having an attorney is invaluable because it can prevent one spouse from being saddled with debts that the other accrued. Marital property lawyers help their clients prove lack of knowledge regarding such debts, minimizing the financial pain of divorce.
A spouse may think he or she is in the clear with inheritance but this can be a very sticky issue. Though inheritance does not typically qualify for equal distribution upon divorce, state laws determine how it is handled once shared with a spouse. Even inheritance acquired prior to a marriage may be at risk of equal distribution based on the laws of some states. When a spouse receives inheritance, his or her first call should be to a lawyer for marital property to get protection in the event of divorce.
Divorce and property or debt division is a complicated area within divorce law. Without guidance from a professional, a spouse can end up being slighted, particularly when property was purchased with commingled funds. An expert divorce attorney can help a divorcing individual receive the amount of property permitted by law while limiting the marital debt burden. Speaking to a divorce attorney that specializes in marital property division and will provide you with a free consultation is a good first step to finding out how the next chapter of your life will begin.