Separate Property Defined

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

In most states first step in determining the division of property in divorce is to identify what property is marital property and what property is not.  In other states the issue of whether property is marital or not is largely irrelevant because, in those states, the court can divide all property regardless of how it was acquired (Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming).  In a few states the decision is left almost entirely to the judge (Georgia, Iowa, Utah and West Virginia). Read more

Common Law vs. Community Property States

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

DivorceThe way marital property is divided varies from state to state.  States fall into two general categories as to how they divide marital property:  community property states and common law states.  Generally, in community property states the courts primary objective is to simply divide the property between the spouses (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington).  Read more

Facts Considered When Dividing Assets

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

Equitable principals that may be considered when dividing marital property include: the contribution each spouse has made during the marriage (contributions as a homemaker are often considered equally as important as earning wages if the couple has children), the value of the spouses separate property, if any, how long the marriage lasted and other economic circumstances.  Courts generally will not care or consider who is to blame for the breakup of the marriage in determining what is equitable.  Read more

Divorce and Debt

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

It is important to understand that in addition to assets such as stocks or a house, debts such as credit cards and mortgage loans are also marital property.  It may make little difference whose name the credit card is in.  If the debt was acquired during the marriage and even if only some of the charges were for items for the couple the debt will generally be marital.  Read more

Trading Marital Property for Additional Alimony

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

The division of property has replaced alimony as the most litigated aspect of divorce. Today there is less of an emphasis on alimony because, in most households, both spouses are members of the workforce and, therefore, there is less, or often no need, for alimony.  Read more

Pensions

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

How pensions are handled upon divorce may depend on a potentially important distinction. This is the difference between “vested” and “non-vested” pension. A pension is generally considered vested if the recipient cannot lose the pension by being fired. If a pension is vested it is usually considered marital property. Read more

Professional Education as Marital Property

January 4, 2009
By Lauren Williams

How to account for professional education upon divorce is only an issue when the education was obtained during the divorce.  If so, how the education was paid for may be an issue.  The classic situation is when one spouse works to support the other one while he or she obtains a professional education.  The degree itself is not marital property, however, many states will take the degree into consideration based on the increased earning potential or that the spouse that worked to support the other spouse while obtaining the education is entitled to compensation.