In a Divorce case, how is Marital Property distributed?
In a Divorce matter, Marital property is any and all property acquired during the course of the marriage, except for certain properties such as an inheritance or personal gift.
At the beginning of the discovery process in your divorce proceeding, you will need to exchange financial information, such as a Comprehensive Financial Statement and will have to answer certain Marital Interrogatories.
The Comprehensive Financial Statement, is like an audit of everything you own or have a financial interest in. The Marital Interrogatories are questions that you ask of your spouse to ensure that your spouse has truthfully disclosed all of their assets and financial interests as well as any income received.
Once you have exchanged all information pertaining to marital property, including real and personal property, and financial and/or employment records, you are only half way to deciding how marital property shall be distributed.
What many divorce clients do not realize, is that "Marital Debt" also needs to be distributed equitably. All marital debt acquired during the course of the marriage will need to be distributed between the parties.
The next question, one would normally ask, is "Why am I responsible for my spouse's personal debt?" If your spouse has incurred debt because he/she has spent marital funds for a marital purpose, the burden of that debt would fall on both parties. However, if a spouse uses marital funds for a non-marital purpose (Weekend in Vegas), that would normally be considered a "Dissipation of Assets." It would be difficult to argue that a weekend vacation without the other spouse being present, is a marital expense and thus contributed to the marital estate.
Once all of the financial and personal assets have been determined, as well as the marital debt, negotiations would begin to determine what would be an equitable distribution of the same. If the parties cannot agree as to the distribution of Marital property, the matter would then have to be set for trial before the Judge.
Marital Property and Marital Debt, can be distributed equitably between the parties so long as the parties can remain reasonable during these negotiations and the Divorce Lawyers involved are able to cooperate towards a common goal. Normally, the common goal of both Divorce Lawyers would be to have a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets and debts.
However, in some instances the parties can ask to have a Mediator appointed to help facilitate these negotiations, if both parties want to avoid a trial.
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