Distribution Of Marital Property In A Divorce
A court must divide marital property in a divorce if the parties are unable to reach agreement. To do so, the court must first classify the property as separate or marital. Normally, separate property is any property owned prior to the marriage or received by gift or bequest during the marriage from anyone other than the spouse. Marital property is usually all other property acquired during the marriage.
Sometimes this can become tricky when a piece of property may be part marital and part separate, such as a house owned prior to the marriage in which the parties have made payment during the marriage from marital assets or earnings.
The determination of whether property is separate or marital is not based upon the legal title.
To assist in evaluating your case as to equitable distribution (or the division of marital property), it is helpful to have some of the following documents when meeting an attorney at our office: (1) statements from various accounts (checking, savings, credit union, money market, certificates of deposit, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, other securities or investment funds such as IRAs, KEOGHs, 401(k) accounts); (2) notes, accounts receivable, debts; (3) documents of income from all sources, including bonuses, commissions, gifts, prizes, inheritances, dividends, rents, pension payments, Social Security Disability, etc.; and (4) personal and business federal tax returns. Business valuations will require many more documents. A spreadsheet setting forth all assets and income can also be of great assistance, not only in the evaluation of your case, but also in keeping your legal fees reasonable. The more organized and prepared you are prior to meeting with one of our attorneys, the better we can use our time meeting with you.
When the court divides assets, the court will also divide pension and retirement benefits. For more information on this aspect, see our page on pension and retirement benefits.