Queens Property Division Lawyers
Marriage is a norm in our society, but so too is divorce. According to the most recent census data as of 2018, about 39 percent of all marriages, unfortunately, end in divorce. One problem that often appears when people divorce is their property and how it’s divided. Read on to learn more about property division in divorce.
Understanding Property Division
Deciding who gets what during a divorce can be challenging even if the divorce decision made by you and your spouse was amicable. Many married couples have a significant amount of property or assets, after all, including homes, bank accounts, pension plans, automobiles, businesses, and even beloved family pets. Consider the following:
- The list of what constitutes property during a divorce can be endless.
- Figuring out a fair method for dividing property during your divorce is vital.
- Special note: Contentious divorces make the task of dividing up property even more difficult.
Separate and Marital Property
There are usually two property types you and your spouse own. In divorces, states closely examine the property included in any filing and classify it as either separate property or marital property.
Though each state treats the two kinds of property differently in some of their details, we can generally say that separate property includes:
- Any property that was owned by either your or your spouse before you were married.
- Inheritances received by either you or your spouse, both before and after you were married.
- Individual gifts received by you or your spouse that came from a third party, such as your mother giving only you her treasured antique jewelry.
- Any payments you or your spouse individually received as part of the pain and suffering portion of a personal injury lawsuit.
Commingled Property Concerns
Beware, though, because most states may consider any property you and your spouse “commingled,” after you married each other, to be marital property. Here’s an example of how once-separate property becomes commingled property:
- You owned a condo by yourself before you married your spouse.
- Upon your marriage, you added your spouse to the title as a co-owner.
- You have now commingled your once-separately-owned condo and made it marital property owned by you and your spouse.
It’s easy to unwittingly create a commingled property from the property you once owned separately, too. Suppose you received a cash inheritance. Next, you take that cash and deposit it into a joint account owned by you and your spouse. Once you’ve placed that money into your joint account, you’ve also commingled it and converted it into marital property.
Outside of clearly separate property you or your spouse own, all other property acquired once you were married is typically treated as marital property. It also matters little whether you or your spouse own that property only in your names or even how it’s titled. If you acquired property during your marriage and it’s not legally separate, it’s marital property. As we know, marital property is subject to a state’s divorce and property division laws. Examples of marital property include, but aren’t limited to:
- Pension plans, 401Ks, IRAs, and most any other retirement plan.
- Deferred compensation, such as from an employer.
- Stock options and other equity in a company.
- Bonuses and commissions.
- Annuities and life insurance.
- Bank accounts.
- Cars, boats, RVs, art, antiques, and so forth.
- Tax refunds.
- Even family pets (they can be a source of real friction between divorcing couples, too).
Community Property States
Whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state is also a key factor in how a state will divide up your property if you divorce. Currently, there are nine community property states:
- Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Community property states typically consider both spouses in marriage equal owners, usually on a 50-50 basis, of all marital property. If, for example, you own a $500,000 home, you and your spouse will divide it equally during your divorce.
Equitable Distribution States
All non-community-property states are classified as equitable distribution states when it comes to divorce and property division. These states try to fairly and equitably distribute marital property. For example, these states frequently consider each spouse’s financial situation when they divide up their property. Property division factors include:
- The marriage’s length.
- The property and income each spouse brought to the marriage.
- The standard of living of the couple during the marriage.
- The age, physical, and emotional health of each spouse.
- Whether children or involved, and the needs of the custodial parent.
Seek an Attorney
As you can see, property division in divorce is often extremely complicated. Factors include the state in which you and your spouse file for divorce. Also, the type and kind of property you and your spouse own may affect how your state will divide it between you. Finally: It’s rarely advisable to handle a divorce on your own, and you should always seek the advice of a qualified attorney before beginning one.