Three Questions About Dividing Assets After Divorce
The process of dividing marital assets is one of the most stressful and contentious aspects of a divorce. It is important to understand your rights and how to protect your property if you want to reach a fair and agreeable settlement. Here are three questions about dividing assets after divorce that are commonly asked by our clients.
What Will Happen to My House?
Generally, one spouse’s inheritance will not be subject to equitable distribution, so long as that inheritance was not commingled with marital funds. If the inheritance is commingled with marital funds – or you used the inheritance for marital bills, to support the marital lifestyle – you could subject yourself to having that inheritance considered in equitable distribution. However, an inheritance that is kept segregated from the marital funds will not be subject to marital distribution. It will be considered if the party who received the inheritance has an alimony obligation because it would then be considered in assessing ability to pay either child support or an alimony award.
What if My Spouse is Hiding Assets?
This can be a very serious situation, particularly if you believe that the lifestyle of the marriage was such that your spouse – based on the income they’re now claiming to earn – could not possibly have been able to sustain the lifestyle of the marriage. You will probably need to have some investigation done to learn whether your spouse possesses other assets that have not been disclosed.
What if I Bought Our Home Before Marriage?
One frequent question that arises during divorce consultations is, “I owned a home prior to getting married, and then my girlfriend moved in, and then we married. Is that home subject to equitable distribution?” There’s no simple, straightforward answer to that question because part of that home could be subject to equitable distribution – that is, some of the value of the home may be. It depends on when the home was purchased.
If you bought the home shortly before your marriage, then the entire home will generally be considered to be subject to equitable distribution because it is presumed that you bought the home in anticipation of the marriage. If you had the home for several years prior to the marriage, then you got married, and your spouse moved in, your spouse could acquire an interest in that home depending on how long you lived in that home. This is true, particularly if the spouse contributed to the mortgage equally, helping to take care of the home. If you built on additions to the home, or if improvements were made to the home, that spouse may very well have some type of equity in the home. It will probably not be 50/50, but there will probably be some kind of equitable interest in the home. It’s a case by case determination.
If you have any more questions about dividing assets after divorce, please contact our office today for a free consultation.