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When it comes to dividing marital assets and debts, the court will take into account a number of factors….
First, the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party are considered. Next to be considered is the acquisition, care, and maintenance of the marital property. This includes considering who is making payments on the marital property as well as considering working arrangements and parenting arrangements.
For example, if one parent is working all the time while the other is always caring for and maintaining a stable household for the children, the court must analyze this dynamic and its full details before making the decisions regarding the parties’ property.
The duration of the marriage also carries weight in the decision to divide assets in a divorce. Additionally, courts consider the age, physical and mental condition of the parties, and the circumstances which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage.
For example, the court will ask questions like:
Let’s speculate that property was purchased during a marriage, but it is titled only in one person’s name. Suppose the parties purchased a brand-new Mercedes and titled it in Spouse A’s name. Shortly thereafter the parties filed for divorce. The judge cannot order Spouse A to sign the Mercedes over to Spouse B. However, what the judge can do is order Spouse A to pay Spouse B half of the equity in the vehicle, or order Spouse A to sell the Mercedes and split the total amount received after the lien is paid in full.
The same would apply to any marital property, including houses. If you prefer not to sell a marital property, you are required to pay the other spouse half of the equity in the property. However, many individuals cannot afford this and are forced to sell the property. Further, the debts and liabilities of each spouse are considered when determining how much of the assets and marital property each party should receive.
Both the liquid or non-liquid nature of all marital property and the tax consequences to each party are also taken into account by the court during a divorce. So, for example, a bank account with $50,000 in it is considered to be very liquid. On the other hand, a retirement account is not as liquid because you would have to go through a lot of hassle to access the money, and you would also have to pay taxes and penalties on it.
The use or expenditure of marital property by either of the parties for a non-marital purpose or the dissipation of such funds in anticipation of divorce or separation could be a detrimental factor in a case.
For instance, if someone were to purchase a separate home without informing their spouse their desire for a divorce, the court would then have to determine what to do with the rest of the parties’ assets and liabilities. This is not a good thing to do as it could severely impact the court’s decision on how to divide the assets fairly.
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