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How assets are divided in a divorce

Posted by attorney Douglas Kepanis

Divorce is not only hard on the heart, but dividing your household in half can be difficult and traumatizing. What are the guidelines when it comes to dividing you and your spouse’s joint assets? If you’re dealing with a contested divorce, here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with the division of assets.

Do-It-Yourself Dividing?

You may think you and your ex can amicably divide your things. However, division of assets can bring out heated emotions. You may have to bring in help to make things fair for everyone involved. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional moderator or lawyer. They can help take the stress off yourself.

Generally, assets that are considered “marital" — that is, belonging to both parties — may be included in the divorce decree and decided on distribution by a judge. If you’re worried about custody and child support or have specific child support modification questions, our lawyers can be a great resource.

How Does It Work?

Typically, the judge may assess the value of items considered marital. Other things regarding the marriage will be taken into consideration, such as length of time married, what the custodial parent will need in regards to taking care of the children, and what each partner’s current financial situation and standing is. Will assets be divided equally? Maybe not right down the middle, but assets will be divided fairly according to the divorce laws in your county and state.

Once the value is determined on all of the assets and all of the factors are taken into consideration, a judgment will be made on the final division of all marital assets. This will then be put into the final divorce decree along with child support arrangements as well as custody information.

Types of Assets

Assets come in many forms. There is property, money, real estate and investments. If a couple has a lot of different types of assets, it can be time-consuming to divide everything equitably. Don’t try and take it on all by yourself. Dividing assets is a daunting task.

If you acquired some of these assets before you married, those are yours to keep. Any inheritances you’ve been given aren’t subject to asset division during divorce. Any presents your spouse gave you during the course of the marriage is yours to keep.

If your spouse is the higher wage earner, you may be given more financial assets, especially if you will be the custodial parent. The children involved in the divorce and their present and future needs will be considered when assets are being divided.

Who Gets the House?

If both parties want to keep the residence, there are several deciding factors about which party will keep the family home. This can depend largely upon how long the family has been living in the home, how many children are involved and their ages, and what the living expenses would cost for the parent living in the home with the children (if the parent can afford to maintain the family home.)

A judge could rule the sale of the house now or after the kids have graduated and left home, depending on the situation. A lot of what happens during a division of assets varies greatly due to the individual circumstances of each divorce situation. Each divorce is different and is treated as such, with a number of factors affecting the final outcome of the asset division.

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