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Untangling marital assets: Five things every couple should know

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Divorce

Whether trying to get through emotional outbursts or dealing with the silent treatment, those who are going through a divorce often need to push past their frustrations to deal with the logistics of the legal process. There are various tools to help you get through this process, from legal counsel to support groups, but sometimes the best tool is knowledge.

Having a basic understanding of the divorce process can help you gain a feeling of control. When you know what is happening, you can better prepare and are more likely to make a case that protects your future interests. As such, it is helpful to have foundational information for what is often one of the most contentious parts of the divorce: asset division.

It is important to note that asset division is a complex part of the divorce. The following provides information to start the conversation. It is generally a good idea to seek legal counsel to better understand how it will impact your specific situation.

With that said, five key things to know about asset division when going through a divorce include the following.

#1: Know your state

Where you divorce matters. This is true because state law guides the process. This post focuses specifically on divorce in Delaware. With that in mind, it is important to note that Delaware follows the principle of equitable distribution. This means that the courts generally divide marital property in a manner it deems fair. This does not always translate to an equal 50/50 split.

#2: Know what the court looks at to determine what is a “fair” split

The court may review each spouse’s economic circumstances and contributions to the marriage. Marital misconduct rarely impacts the division of assets unless it has economic repercussions.

#3: Get a firm understanding of your marital property

Marital property generally includes assets acquired during the marriage.

In some cases, the courts will consider inheritances and gifts to one spouse as separate property. This is generally true if the receiving spouse kept the asset separate. If it was comingled with marital property, it is likely the court will consider it marital property subject to division during divorce.

#4: Prepare for the impact of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are much more common than they once were. If you have one, know you are not alone and prepare for the potential impact on the divorce process. These agreements will often contain provisions that outline the division of assets during the divorce. If the agreement is valid, the court will likely abide by its terms.

#5: Do not forget about debts

Debts are also part of the division process. Courts will likely consider any debts accrued during the marriage as the responsibility of both parties and may divide the repayment obligation.

Divorce brings unique rules for dividing assets depending on where you are moving forward with the process. Couples are wise to get a better understanding of the process to mitigate the risk of any surprises. Starting with these tips, you can dig in and learn more to better ensure your interests are protected and pave the way to a smooth transition to post-divorce life.