Dividing the Assets
In any divorce situation, one of the most major and complex elements to be dealt with would of course be the impeding division of the marital assets. In many respects, marriage is not only a union of two people who profess love for one another, but also a merger of two economic entities as well. Anything and everything of actual economic value obtained over the course of a marriage, regardless of which spouse actually paid for it, is considered to be what is known as "marital property". Obviously, with a dissolution of a marriage comes the end of this economic union requiring adequate arrangements.
Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution
There are two types of states with respect to division of property, "community property" and "equitable distribution". For the most part, in a community property state the marital property is simply divided in two. In a equitable distribution state, the court arrives at what it views as a fair and equitable split irrespective of any actual 50/50 split. However, in each state, it is the specifics of each particular case which the court will follow in determining the actual division; these specifics are known as "relevant factors". There exists no set scale for determining the individual weight each relevant factor carries, so each state leaves these determinations to be made by the court on a case by case basis.
For the most part, the two pieces of property which would be considered the "big-ticket" items would be the martial place of residence and the individual and joint retirement plans of the spouses. Typically speaking, in a case where there are children involved, the house will almost always be awarded to that spouse who will ultimately receive primary custody of the children. This rule will almost always hold true, even when it results in a slight imbalance with respect to the equitable distribution factor.
Resources & Tools
DATE OF SEPARATION – Depending upon the laws of the state of residence, the Date of Separation – called the DOS – has a profound impact on the eventual division and distribution of property and debt, including credit, pension benefits, and other marital assets. As of the DOS, the separated spouses are now in limbo legally and financially and remain so until the actual Date of Divorce. A great deal of money may be at stake. For example, one spouse may share responsibility for any debts incurred by the other; the value of a retirement plan or other marital asset, such as residential property, may fluctuate, often by thousands of dollars.
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