From the day you get married until the day you are divorced or separated, you accumulate assets and debts. These assets and debts are to be divided by the court in the final orders hearing unless the couple reaches an agreement. While it is standard for the court to divide the assets and the debts equally between the parties, that is not what the statute says. The statute tells the court to divide the assets and debts equitably not equally.
For instance, if one party makes 5 times more in income than what the other party makes then the equitable division of marital debt would be 80% of the debt to the higher wage earner and only 20% of the debt to the lower wager. The court has the authority to make that determination.
Conversely, it may be more fair that the higher wage earner get less of the assets under the theory that they can make this up over the years to come.
In the first paragraph, I make the statement that the court considers everything acquired from the date of marriage until the date of divorce or separation. There is an exception to this general rule. If one of the parties inherits an asset during the marriage and that party keeps the asset in their name only, then the court has no authority to give that asset to the other party. For example if a party inherits $10,000 and puts that money in an account that does not have the other party’s name on the account, then that inheritance stays with the party who inherited the money.
Let’s take another example. If one party inherits a house, and keeps that house in their name only, then accordingly that house should belong to the person who inherited it. But if the person who inherited the house uses marital funds to pay the taxes on the house, to fix the house up, to pay the utilities on the house, then the court would be free to assume that this house is marital property.
There are many rules and there are exceptions to the rules. It takes an experienced divorce attorney to be able to sort out these difficult and complex situations. The attorneys at The Law Office of Greg Quimby have that ability to and can help you in these difficult situations. The information you obtain at this site is not legal advice nor is it intended to be legal advice.
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