Few people actually enter a marriage expecting anything other than a lifetime of happiness. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as planned, and when they don’t, the two partners are forced to navigate the often murky waters of divorce.
Fortunately, Kentucky is considered a no-fault divorce state, which means that no one has to go through the grueling process of proving that their partner did something wrong. When it comes to dividing property after divorce, Kentucky also follows what is called common law, or the equitable distribution of assets standard.
If you or someone you know is contemplating the process of divorce in Elizabethtown, Hardin County, or any of the surrounding areas of Kentucky, you should contact our experienced divorce attorneys at Bland & Birdwhistell, PLLC. We can guide you through the whole process and help you work toward the most mutually beneficial terms and division of assets available.
If you’re staring at the prospect of a divorce, you really don’t want to let a court decide how your assets get divided. It’s always better if you and your spouse can work the details of asset division out yourselves. However, having a thorough understanding of how property is classified in Kentucky is an essential first step that can smooth the process of asset division for you and your spouse. Basically, equitable distribution of assets involves classifying property as either marital or personal and then proceeding from there.
Basically, marital property is defined as any property that was acquired during the marriage by either spouse. Examples of marital property include:
All property acquired separately by either spouse during the marriage, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, automobiles, etc.
All property acquired jointly by the two spouses during the marriage, including all the items listed above and more.
Property that was separate property prior to the marriage but became “commingled” during the marriage. For instance, Spouse A owns a house before marriage and Spouse B helps pay the mortgage after marriage, or otherwise helps increase the value of the property – the property can be considered commingled and thus, subject to marital property rules.
Generally, personal property is defined as anything owned by either spouse before marriage, or is inherited or gifted to either spouse during marriage, or is covered by a valid prenuptial agreement.
Income from separate property will also remain the possession of the spouse it is paid to unless it can be shown that the other spouse somehow contributed to the increase in its value. As an example, one spouse retains personal possession of a stock trading account created prior to the marriage, but the other spouse assumes some trading duties that lead to an increase in value. The account may then be considered marital property.
If each spouse can agree with one another on every aspect of the divorce, including property division and other issues such as child custody, child visitation rights, child support, spousal support, etc. — then they can file a settlement agreement with the court. The court, however, can veto the agreement if it finds it unfairly benefits one of the two partners.
If you can come to an agreement on the details of the divorce with your spouse, this is considered an uncontested divorce. In contrast, a contested divorce will end up having all or a number of issues resolved in court. If a judge must decide upon the division of assets, the factors he or she will consider may include:
The length of the marriage
Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring marital property, including any contributions by a stay-at-home spouse
Each spouse’s circumstances, including the need for maintaining a home for the custodial parent and the children
Value of property awarded to each spouse
Debt is also something that requires division after divorce. If the spouses don’t resolve the issue in a settlement agreement, the court will consider various factors, including the debt and liability of each spouse; the financial and economic circumstances of each spouse; and the basis of the debt — for example, did one spouse wildly spend or use debt for gambling losses?
Even if the court assigns the debt to your spouse, the creditor can still come after you if that spouse doesn’t keep payments current. To prevent this, you should get a court order to have your name removed from the account upon settlement.
Arriving at a division of assets – and all the other terms of a divorce – is not something many spouses can do on their own, especially if the relationship is already fractured beyond repair. If you or someone you know is considering divorce and worried about an equitable division of assets, don’t face these challenges alone. Call Bland & Birdwhistell, PLLC today to speak with our experienced asset division attorneys. We’ll do everything we can to protect your rights, advocate for your needs, and help you reach a fair resolution that can allow you to move forward.
If you’re considering divorce — or have been served with divorce papers — you need the help of experienced divorce and asset division attorneys. At Bland & Birdwhistell, PLLC, we are dedicated to helping clients who are facing divorce navigate the legal process and achieve the best possible outcome for themselves and their families. If you live in Elizabethtown or in the nearby communities of Radcliff, Shepherdsville, Louisville, or in Hardin or Meade County, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’d be happy to discuss your unique situation and explore all of your legal options.