Marital Assets and Properties: What Goes to Who?

Divorce and all other issues related to it are painful and emotionally- draining experiences. Yet, couples go through the experience, especially if it seems to be the only means remaining, to close the chapters of a life of marriage that can no longer be mended.

Divorce opens a lot of fears and doubts regarding the kind of life you will have in the future. More than any other thing, the basis of this fear is actually the financial standing you will be cast into as your marriage is severed and you face the future alone or with your child/children.

Thus, aside from divorce itself, many other important issues need to be settled as husband and wife separate; one of these many issues is division of assets and properties. To be able to determine what goes to who, though, the court first needs to know which properties ought to be divided or more specifically, which properties are marital (the only ones subject to division) and which are non-marital (those acquired before marriage).

Properties and assets include employer-sponsored retirement savings plans or 401K, mutual funds, stocks and bonds, saving accounts, credit card accounts, country club memberships, pension and retirement plans, deferred compensation, tax refunds, life insurance, commissions and bonuses, antiques, art, vehicles and some others. With concern to real estates, these may be sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses or any of the spouses may claim these by buying out his or her partner’s share.

In some US states, assets and properties are divided equally between the spouses; in others, however, division is based on fairness and reasonableness, that is, equitable distribution. This latter form of division is affected by other factors, such as:

  • Income / property contributed by each spouse into the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Health and age of each spouse
  • Earning capability and income of each spouse
  • Needs of the custodial parent assigned to take care of the child / children (if there are any)

The process of division is always a complex matter, even with a judge seeing to it. There are times too when a spouse is awarded properties that are irrelevant to his or her needs. The website of Holmes, Diggs & Eames, PLLC, also states how difficult reaching a settlement is, as both spouses have personal interests to protect. Thus, having a skillful and knowledgeable legal representative during the divorce proceedings will definitely work in your favor.