If you and your spouse live in a community property state and have agreed that a divorce is in your best interests or if you are ready to file for a divorce without the approval of your spouse, it is important to be aware that there are specific guidelines as to how the property will be divided between the two of you. However, only nine states are community property areas, so it is crucial for you to verify whether you or not you live in an area with that classification.
As part of your planning for the dissolution of your marriage, it is a good idea to be aware of the following facts that may apply to your situation.
What Is Marital Property?
It is important to note that in general, marital property is defined as items of value that were accumulated by you and your spouse during the time that you were together. It does not include property that was yours or your spouse's before the marriage occurred and typically excludes any property that one party inherited during the marriage.
In addition, in most circumstances, if property was acquired after you separated, that property will not be divided. However, that rule is not applicable if you used joint funds to make that purchase. For instance, if you bought a new car and paid for it in cash that was acquired jointly during your marriage, your spouse may be able to petition the court to have it included with the other property being divided.
Alternatively, if someone gave you that car or if you financed it just in your name after you separated from your spouse and prior to the divorce becoming final, it is likely to be regarded as solely yours.
How Will Benefits Earned By One Party During The Marriage Be Allowed For When the Union Ends?
Another important aspect to consider is the division of retirement benefits and pension funds that was accumulated by one of the spouses. Those funds are usually classified as community property and will be divided accordingly. However, doing so is not always as cut and dried as you might expect if those accounts were in place when the marriage started and have not been used yet at the time of the divorce.
If that occurs, the person who did not earn those benefits personally might be awarded only a portion of the total. That partial amount will reflect their approved portion of the funds that accumulated during the marriage after deducting what was earned prior to the marriage and what accrued after the separation.
In conclusion, if you live in an a community property state and your marriage is ending, specific guidelines are in place as to how the majority of your belongings will be divided when the divorce is final. Therefore, it is essential for you to allow for the facts decided above when you are planning for your future as a single person. .