Determining what assets should be included as marital property and who gets these items can be a pretty big argument between divorcing couples. Property acquired before marriage may or may not be considered marital property. When a prenuptial agreement exists, it can help determine the marital assets and protect anything owned prior to marriage. Stay at home moms and other non-working spouses are protected by the court in some states and can receive part of the assets or compensation for them. Other factors such as who will be raising the children and who has more income can sway how everything is divided.
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With the exception of rare circumstances, everything acquired throughout the marriage is included as marital property. These are things such as the home, vehicles, and bank account funds. By being married both parties agree to share financial gains and losses. Marital assets can be divided in two ways depending upon the standards of family law set in each state. Approximately ten states follow community property laws while the others use equitable distribution. Knowing the particular states laws can be very helpful in being prepared for the divorce and proceedings. Divorce lawyers can help determine which assets will be included as marital assets and most reasonable way to divide them.
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Equitable distribution is the more common of the two ways to divide assets. Distribution of assets is not necessarily guaranteed to be 50/50 in these states. The court itself decides what division percentage is fair and reasonable for both parties. A court makes this decision based on many different factors. Some of them include the length of the marriage, both parties’ income, responsibility for the children, and debt. Another factor is what each person had when they entered the marriage. A prenuptial agreement takes precedence over the laws definition of distribution and can make determining the marital assets much easier.
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Remember these things when it comes to equitable distribution. Everything bought during the marriage will be divided. Who bought it or whose name is on the item does not matter. It is the responsibility of the divorcing couple to prove which assets are marital assets. This includes proving a spouse got rid of certain assets knowing divorce was inevitable. Having knowledge of the state laws can make it easier to work with divorce lawyers in getting desired items or compensation. Finally, each party is also responsible for debt accrued during the marriage.
Community property results in a 50/50 distribution of all marital assets. All debts are also marital property and will be equally split between both parties. Spouses who know their state follows community property laws may hide debt or increase it as a way to get even. When a home is owned in more than one state, it may be possible to file for divorce in either state. Consult with someone familiar with family law to determine which state’s laws will be most beneficial when filing for the divorce. People with higher incomes benefit more from equitable distributions states whereas someone who has no or very little income would benefit more by community property laws.