One of the most common questions that comes up in divorce is who gets what. Throughout the course of a marriage, the assets that a couple accumulates are usually considered marital assets. As a result, they may be subject to equitable distribution in divorce. If assets were acquired prior to the marriage, those assets can remain the property of the spouse who purchased or originally owned them. In addition, there may be instances where only one spouse has an interest in the asset, even if the asset was acquired during the marriage.
What Factors are Considered in Equitable Distribution
In the equitable distribution process, the court aims to divide property fairly, but this does not always mean it will be split equally. In determining the distribution of marital assets, the court can take into consideration a number of different factors. First, the court can look at the earning potential of both parties. The party with a lower earning power, such as a stay at home parent who has been out of work for a long time, may receive more marital assets through the distribution. Secondly, the court can look at the length of the marriage. If the parties were only married for a short period of time, and only one spouse made most of the marital purchases, that spouse may be able to retain most of the assets. Conversely, if the parties were married for 20 years, the assets are more likely to be divided fairly between the parties.
What About Inheritances?
Usually, courts view inheritances as separate property. As a result, they may not be included in the equitable distribution process. However, if an inheritance is at any time shared during the marriage it may be subject to equitable distribution. For example, if a monetary inheritance is commingled with marital funds, or if it was utilized to purchase a marital residence, that portion of the inheritance may be considered marital property.
If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney to help you with your matter, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. to schedule your consultation.