What is Personal Property?
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.
Who Determines the Division of Assets?
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
What About Debt?
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.
Get The Legal Support You Need Today
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.