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Nebraska Property Division
Property Distribution Laws in Nebraska
In Nebraska the courts generally accept a fair and reasonable property division the parties agree to, but if the parties cannot agree, the property is divided by the District Court within the Judgment of Divorce.
Nebraska is an equitable distribution state, and it uses the dual classification model. The court divides marital property in an equitable fashion unless the spouses agree otherwise. Equitable does not mean equal, or even half, but rather what the District Court considers fair.
Factors in Equitable Distribution
According to Nebraska Statutes - Chapter 42 - Sections: 365, the court, when making a property award, considers:
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Being a dual classification state, Nebraska separates immune property, which is the property the spouses brought to the marriage, from marital property, which is the property that the couple acquired together. The marital estate is subject to equitable distribution.
Valuing and Dividing Property
First, the court classifies assets and liabilities, property and debt, as marital or separate. Then it assigns a monetary value to the marital property and debt. Finally, it distributes the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion.
The Marital Home
In Nebraska, as in many jurisdictions, the equity in the marital home is often one of the biggest assets the spouses divide. The equity is the market value of the house, less any debts or liens against it. Equity is established by determining what the current market value of the home is at the time of separation. Once the spouses agree to a current market value, any debts associated with the property (mortgage, taxes, home equity loans, etc.) from are deducted the market value to arrive at the equity to be divided. Normally, making this calculation requires a paid real estate appraisal or a real estate agent can prepare a market analysis for free.
From there, couples choose one of three options to divide the equity:
Pensions and Retirement Accounts
In Nebraska vested pensions are marital property. A pension vests when all the requirements to receive the pension have been met. Unvested pensions are also marital property. Until the pension has vested, the person under whom the pension is maintained has only an expectancy of interest in the pension.
Several different methods of valuation are used in determining how much a marital asset is worth, depending upon the asset to be valued and the level of agreement between the parties. Courts generally accept the value when the spouses mutually agree on a value of a particular asset. Experts may be retained by the parties or by the courts to determine the value of marital assets if the parties cannot agree. Such experts may include accountants, real estate or business appraisers, or pension valuators. The use of experts adds to the cost of the divorce.
In Nebraska the court may include the retirement benefits and plans earned by both spouses as marital assets available for division. Retirement benefits vary greatly but can generally be divided into two groups:
In Nebraska, if spouses share in each others retirement or pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order must be completed. A QDRO is a written set of instructions that explains to a plan administrator that two parties are dividing pension benefits. The instructions set forth the terms and conditions of the distribution - how much of the benefits are to be paid to each party, when such benefits can be paid, and how such benefits should be paid.
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