Divorce is the end of the road for a marriage and means that you are parting in every way. This included dividing assets accumulated before and during the marriage. Each state's laws vary on how assets should be dispersed between spouses. Pre-nuptial agreements can protect some assets such as a home owned before the union. When there is no pre-nuptial agreement, even items acquired before marriage must be accommodated for. In many cases the assets may need to be sold and the money made is divided evenly between the two of you. Some states do award equitable shared where both parties receive different percentages.
Divorce attorneys can help you identify and determine the value of assets along with negotiating for your best interest. It is always better if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on how all assets should be divided. If you cannot, the decision is left to the judge in most states. Divorce courts deal with all types of assets including frequent flyer miles, houses, time shares, pensions, pets, family businesses, and many others. When two parties can't agree, it is normally out of anger and they are fighting to see who gets the last word. In cases where this occurs, a mediator may be brought in to assist you in working together and finding common ground.
Marital property is any property or debt that was obtained during the marriage. This includes your property increasing or decreasing in value. Separate property consists of property owned before marriage including gifts or inheritances that were given to you as an individual. Separate property can be listed in a pre-nuptial agreement that will keep it protected no matter what the circumstances are.
Property issues are normally settled between the two of you. You will sign a document called a marital settlement agreement when nothing is contested. Otherwise the superior court will award the property within the decree of divorce. When the two of you cannot reach a decision, the court has specific processes it will follow to divide the assets. The discovery process will be used to determine what assets and debts are part of the marriage. A monetary value will then be assigned to each asset and debt. State family law included equitable distribution for assets. Equitable distribution is when the judge using certain factors to determine how the property will be divided fairly and not necessarily equally. These types of factors include income, age, and who is responsible for children.
In order for your lawyer to be effective in helping you determine your assets and how they should be divided, you need to know what assets you have and whether they are marital or separate. Being able to define this for your attorney will make their job easier and they can focus on more important things like filing all the documents and determining what to do if the other party contests the division of assets. Try to reach an agreement with your spouse so you can both get items you desire or be compensated how you see fit. Otherwise a judge will do this for you and the results could be devastating.