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Dividing Property During A Divorce

 
If you are entering into divorce proceedings, you might discover that the division of marital property is not always a straightforward process. It is important to contact a divorce lawyer.

The first step is to determine the divorce laws in your state concerning marriage, residence and divorce. Division of property laws vary from state to state. Your divorce lawyer or family attorney can help you to understand the particular laws that will apply in your situation.

Two methods for distribution of property
Generally speaking, the court will use one of two methods to split property between you and your estranged spouse. The methods are listed below:
  • Equitable distribution This is the most common method of division of property followed in the United States and dictates that all assets and earnings acquired during the period of marriage must be fairly divided upon divorce.
  • Community (marital) property In some states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico – property is divided into two camps: community or separate. Community property is acquired during the marriage, while separate property is acquired prior to marriage or through gifts and inheritance. Items that are community property are equally divided upon divorce and separate properties stay with the original owner.

What is Community Property?
Generally speaking, the items listed below are considered to be community property:
  • All wages earned during marriage AND everything that was acquired with those earnings, including cars, a home, furniture and boats.
  • Stock options and other forms of alternative wages.
  • Debts that were incurred during marriage – unless applied to separate property – are also considered to be community property.
Examples of Separate Property
If you have concerns that your estranged spouse might try to make a grab for property or assets that you feel belong solely to you, it is important to talk with a divorce lawyer to understand what qualifies as a separate property.

Below is a list of items that qualify as separate property:
  • personal injury awards
  • gifts that were given only to one spouse
  • inheritance that was directed to only one spouse
  • proceeds of any pension that the pensioner was eligible to earn income on prior to the marriage
  • property purchased or investments made using only separate property
If you are going through a divorce, it is important to speak with a divorce lawyer or family attorney in your area.

Dividing Community and Separate Property During Divorce
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