A divorce is a sad event, regardless of the underlying circumstances. The numerous court visits and legal obligations that occur during this process can overwhelm both parties and create an antagonistic atmosphere when productive conversation should occur. The process of handling real estate is relatively straight forward, with a logical process designed to equitably split the value of any jointly held property between both former spouses. Here is the basic process:
Determine What is Jointly Held, and What Is Not
Any property that was owned before the marriage is still owned solely by the original spouse. Any gifts, inheritances, and the income earned from them, is still owned solely by the recipient spouse.
There are two exceptions to this. The first is that any money from these sources invested in a jointly owned property (a new house for the couple, for instance) becomes marital property subject to compensation. The second is that income derived from an income generating inheritance earned by the other spouse is considered jointly held.
A Status-quo is Maintained
The second a divorce is filed, the court orders an injunction against the dissolution of any assets until the divorce is finalized. There are two exceptions to this, living expenses and joint agreement. This is designed to prevent any further legal issues, such as when a spouse sells the other ones car for a penny.
This does not stop the value of property from increasing, or decreasing. It just limits the ability for it to change hands.
The Court Determines What is Equitable
The court looks at the family unit, taking into account the financial, social, and demographic status of everyone involved. By using this formula, it arrives at a solution designed to ensure both spouses are fairly compensated for the effort they put into the marriage. For instance, a homemaker who dedicated the better part of a professional life to the home will receive greater property and financial compensation than the spouse with the ability to purchase new items and replenish accounts.
The only exception to this is instances where a valid pre-nuptial agreement is in place. The court will take this agreement into account, and only splitting jointly held property not covered by it.
Equitably Does not Mean Equally
Nothing is split clean down the middle, for it neglects the simple fact that a couple rarely contributes to a property equally in the same manner. Every facet of the family is taken into account, with the two goals of maintaining a quality life for the children and fairly compensating both parents being preeminent.
Regardless of the underlying circumstances, it is vital to have an understanding of what may happen once the legal process starts. Contact a local attorney now, and enter the court room with the comfort of knowing what will happen. Remember, this process is designed to protect both spouses and their children.