Property, assets, and possessions are some of the most highly sought-after items during divorce proceedings. Each party seemingly has a claim against the other for what he or she rightfully deserves in the proceedings, but what happens when these material possessions aren’t so cut and dry? Who actually owns the property in a marriage? Who owns property before the marriage? Who incurs the couple’s debt?
If you’re going through a divorce, all of these questions will inevitably be running through your mind, so we’ve put together a few things you need to know about protecting your property and assets during a divorce.
Know Thy Property as You Know Thy Self
While property division and dissolution is primarily handled through the court at the end of your divorce proceedings, there certainly are some things you can do before filing for divorce to help protect your assets. If you already have a firm grasp on your personal and marital finances, you’re already on the right track. If not, take some time to take inventory of what you own.
The courts will look at a variety of circumstances to gauge who is awarded what property: length of marriage, value of property, when the property was acquired, how it was attained, etc. The best thing you can do to start is answer all of those questions before the court does the math itself. If you have records of purchases for any major property items or current valuations of assets, now is the time to resurrect those documents and prove what is rightfully yours.
But that begs the question: whose stuff is it?
Mine, Hers, Ours: Who Owns What?
Generally speaking, property and assets can be broken down into three broad categories: marital property, separate property, and hybrid property. Each one of these categories bears a different weight in the court’s eyes, and being able to prove that property belongs solely to you may be the difference in the end.
Marital property, as one might imagine, is property acquired during the marriage with both parties actively engaged in its purchase whether monetarily or through the ownership of a title in the case of a home or vehicle. Separate property is considered as property acquired by only one spouse’s means, but can also be something handed down such as an inheritance or something brought into the marriage. While separate property contributed to the marriage is often “converted” into marital property in the court’s view, if you can prove that property or assets were jointly purchased and show the breakdown of that purchase, the court may deem that property as hybrid property.
Again, know what you have and how it was acquired before discovery.
Debt: Who’s Got It?
Virtually everyone has some form of debt whether in the form of student loans, mortgages, car notes, or business obligations. In the end, though, who foots the bill for debts in a marriage?
Debt is a little more straightforward than physical possessions in the legal sense, but certainly no less important in your divorce proceedings. Each spouse is responsible for any debt titled solely in his or her name (student loans, a car with one purchaser, medical bills, etc.). Joint debts, on the other hand, tend to get a little trickier in the courtroom. Joint debt obligations can be split by court order or a monetary settlement can be ordered to compensate one spouse or the other for the debt.
Whatever the case, your attorney should be able to advise you on how to proceed with certain debts and make sure you get what you deserve during the proceedings. Of course (as we’ve mentioned above) getting a firm grip on what those particular debts are before filing for divorce will get you ahead of the game and give your legal team a direction for their strategy.
Keep What You’ve Earned
While divorce proceedings in general aren’t anything you want to try to tackle solo, when it comes to property, assets, and the associated debts with those items, it’s best left to a competent attorney to sort through all the rubble. Of course, only you can truly know what you own and what value (either monetarily or intrinsically) certain items hold. While it is important to have a firm grasp on where you stand financially and with your current assets, let your attorney do the work for you in the courtroom.
Get in touch with the attorneys at The Firm for Men today to talk to an attorney who has never represented a woman in a court of law, ever. Call the Firm for Men at 757-383-9184 to speak with an experienced divorce attorney and fight for everything you’ve earned and everything you deserve.