States have their own laws when it comes to the division of property, especially in community property states. They may also have different divorce laws governing what is or is not marital property.
What is NOT Marital Property
Typically, the court does not consider these items as marital property:
- Gifts or inheritances received by either spouse after the commencement of the marriage.
- Any item you purchased with premarital funds.
- Property clearly defined as excluded in a prenuptial agreement.
- Any additional equity due to an increase in the value of property owned by either party before marriage.
Nine states are classified as community property states—Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In those states, each party to a divorce receives half of all property acquired throughout the marriage even if only one person paid for it. The other 41 states have their own laws and regulations, often including the definition of marital property.
Learn Your State’s Divorce Laws
To learn the divorce laws in your state, consult a reputable divorce lawyer. Most states define marital property as any assets acquired either in anticipation of, or during the marriage. For example, in some states, a person may buy a home in their name only because of impending marriage. In a divorce they may, in some states, be shocked to find it defined as marital property.
Fair and Equitable Distribution of Assets
The courts consider several factors when determining a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets in non-community property states:
- The net worth and financial status of both parties to the divorce.
- The individual incomes and earning ability of husband and wife.
- How well both parties treated one another while married.
- Proof of any effort to hide marital assets to affect equitable distribution.
- The effect of divorce on future needs of husband and wife, including retirement planning.
The amount of debt assigned to each party varies by state. States also differ in the determination of divorce assets and marital property. As a result, that determination may make a huge difference in distribution.
Consult a divorce attorney before filing to get a better understanding of the laws and consequences of divorce in your state.
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