1. People & Relationships

Issues Surrounding the Division of Marital Property

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Your state will be either an equitable distribution state or a community property state. Once it is determined how marital property is divided in your state, four concerns need to be dealt with.

  • Marital assets owned by you and your spouse will need to be identified.

  • The assets will need to be categorized by marital or non-marital property.

  • A value will have to be assigned to the assets.

  • A plan for division of the assets must be established in accordance with your state laws.

Due to no-fault divorce laws, most states separate the division of marital property from any grounds for the divorce. Most states will, however consider financial misconduct when dividing marital property. If your spouse has gone through a mid-life crises and foolishly spent money, or has been engaged in an affair and given money to the other man/other woman, then your spouse should expect to be penalized when splitting marital property.

If you feel there will be problems with your spouse during the division of marital assets, you should consider separating any joint financial obligations; you have before starting the process. Marital property does not only consist of dividing furniture and household items. Any joint credit accounts you have are considered during the division process also. The quicker you can set up separate accounts the better. It may cause feelings of hostility between you and your spouse to begin with but, in the end you will both be better served. Below are some tips to consider:

  • Each spouse should have a complete set of all financial documents in their possession.

  • Establish credit in the name of each spouse and close all joint credit card accounts.

  • Have a formal written agreement about the activity on any joint credit accounts until all accounts can be separated.

  • Open separate bank accounts.

  • If you maintain a joint bank account, you should have a written agreement regarding the purpose of the account and what the funds will be used for. It’s best to require both signatures on any checks written from the joint account.

  • Freeze any investment assets so that neither spouse may misuse funds.

  • Change the title to your home, if you own a home to include, “tenants in common.”

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