When you are going through a divorce, the emotions of the situation can sometimes cloud your judgment. With all of the changes occurring and everyone in your life telling you how to feel, what to do, or how to act, you may forget that you do not know a ton of information about the process ahead of you.
You may have a wealth of concerns, regarding maintaining a stable living and how your shared children will factor into that. However, in order to acquire the answers before you enter family court and find yourself blindsided by the challenges of the divorce process, you need to enlist help.
You need a family law attorney who understands the difficulties that the divorce process entails for men and fathers. You need someone who can help you understand what it will take for you to manage your assets, your custodial place in the lives of your children, and your life during this demanding time in your life.
Your attorney can help you understand some of the major hurdles that come with divorce, including figuring out which assets are marital assets and which ones are not.
Understanding property division
Property division is a significant part of the divorce process. While you may wish to keep as many assets and possessions as possible, loss is a part of the experience that you are going to have to accept.
Acceptance can be difficult, especially when it is your possessions on the line. Before you mourn for what you have lost, you need to understand which assets are on the line and which are not, and that means learning what makes an asset marital or nonmarital.
Marital and nonmarital assets
Marital, or community property, is defined as assets and debt newly acquired during the marriage, either jointly or by one party, other than by a gift or inheritance to one spouse.
Nonmarital, or separate property, are the assets and debts owned prior to the marriage that remain unchanged. They also can be inheritances during the marriage to one spouse, including gifts by one spouse to the other.
You also may have to worry about commingled property, which are the assets and debts that were nonmarital, but which were traded in to acquire new property, repaired or enhanced during the marriage with marital funds, or nonmarital debts paid with marital. For example, cars can sometimes find themselves in this category, due to their upkeep and need for payment.
With property division comes dealing with the regulations that decide how assets are going to be divided. You will be subject to the community property or equitable distribution laws in your state.
Community property vs. equitable distribution
If you live in the states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin (Alaska is an opt-in), both parties are assumed to equally share all income, property, and debt accumulated during the course of the marriage.
If you live in any other state, the courts look at a variety of factors in determining a fair and equitable division of all marital property.
With property and assets, you may have many concerns regarding specific items that hold emotional value. You also may have worries that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will want a specific item or asset in the divorce process, and the emotions of the situation may take over.
However, it is important for you to remember that loss is a central part of this process. While you may not like the fact that you may lose at all, you still have a chance to maintain many of the assets you enjoyed during the course of your marriage.
Keep an eye out
You do need to keep an eye out for dissipation, as soon as you feel like your marriage has come to an end. This is the use of marital assets or the creation of marital debt by one spouse for nonmarital purposes, once the marriage has begun to unravel.
This often can come when infidelity is involved. If any of the marital assets were used during that type of situation and it can be proven in family court, your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be required to reimburse the marital estate.
Businesses and money
Other assets, like business properties, may require the creation of a business entity, such as a limited liability company, a corporation, or a trust, in order to effectively separate the property. However, the income generated from the business during the course of the marriage, as well as the increases in value of the business property, still can be considered marital property.
When it comes to money, it can be difficult to track when it became a marital asset or how much of it is nonmarital. Joint accounts are treated as a marital asset, given that both parties have access to the money that goes into it. This is why as soon as a divorce is on the horizon, it is important for you to keep accounts separate and track any and all transactions involved with the marital assets.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.