Apart from child custody and support, there is possibly no more divisive issue during a divorce than the fair and equitable distribution of assets and liabilities. Equitable distribution of marital property does not always mean an equal division, it means a fair division. This can be determined between the parties or by the trial judge.
There is normally a three step process to ditributing assets. First, assets have to be identified as “marital” or “non-marital”. Generally, courts have defined marital property to be property acquired by either or both spouses from the date of marriage to the filing of the divorce. Some main categories of non-marital property include property acquired prior to marriage, property acquired during the marriage as gifts from third parties or by inheritance, or property acquired after the filing of the divorce complaint from post-complaint efforts. Courts have held that non-marital property must be kept separately and not allowed to be co-mingled to prevent it from being identified as marital property.
Second, the marital property will be valued for purposes of distribution. This step may be as straightforward as looking at bank statements or it can be a more complicated process such as retaining an appraiser or accountant to value a business, or to analyze business benefits, such as deferred compensation, restricted stock or stock options.
The third step is where either the parties or the court decides how to equitably distribute the property. No matter how large or small your estate, you can trust that I will protect your interests and defend your rights. To ensure the fair division of your assets and liabilities, consult with me now.