Money and Legal Care
Getting a divorce is a life-changing event. It can be sad, stressful, liberating, or any combination of those things. Regardless of how you feel going into the divorce, the actual divorce proceeding is often emotionally draining and can leave you feeling exhausted and stretched to your limit. You may experience these feelings tenfold if your divorce is also putting you in a financially difficult situation. To prepare yourself for the impact a divorce may have on your finances, consider the questions and answers below about property division and alimony.
How will my property be divided?
Depending on the law of your state, and any agreement you have with your spouse, your marital assets may be split in any number of ways between you and your spouse. Here are three different asset distribution schemes:
- Some states follow the “community property” rule. “Community property” means any assets you and your spouse acquired during the marriage. This includes homes and vehicles that you purchase together, as well as any cash savings. Importantly, community property does not include anything that you owned before you got married. Community property will generally be distributed equally between you and your spouse, sometimes approaching a 50-50 split by the court. Non-community property, however, will remain in the possession of the person who owned the asset prior to the marriage.
- Other states follow the “equitable distribution” rule in which a court will look at all of the facts of the marriage, including the income of one spouse compared to the other, to divide all property that was accumulated during the marriage. “Equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Depending on the law of your state and the type of divorce for which you file, a court may also consider who is “at fault” for failure of the marriage.
- All states will consider valid agreements between the couple, such as a prenuptial agreement, or a divorce settlement agreement when dividing marital property. The court will generally approve the division of assets if you and your spouse agree how it should happen, though there can be exceptions especially if there are children involved. Resolving a divorce by an agreement, often formed during a mediation, can be a great way to make sure that you preserve the assets that mean the most to you.
After you have divided your assets, the court will also consider whether you owe or are owed alimony. Alimony is a payment one spouse makes to the other to support him or her after the divorce. Historically, alimony payments have been made by a working husband to a stay-at-home wife. In modern times, however, alimony is frequently awarded to both husbands and wives. Alimony is frequently awarded to a spouse whose income is significantly lower than the other spouse and in cases where the marriage has lasted a considerable time.
Property division and alimony are only two of the many issues you will have to address when filing for a divorce. Consider reaching out to a qualified and experienced divorce attorney in your local area today to learn more about how best to approach this difficult time in your life.