Methods of dividing property
There are three ways property can be divided during a divorce case:
- The parties can agree to the division of property;
- The attorneys for the parties can negotiate a settlement; or
- A judge can decide which property is granted to each party to the divorce.
Identifying marital and non-marital property
The first step to dividing marital property is identifying which property is “marital property.” As a general rule, marital property is property acquired during the marriage. So, for example, if one party enters the marriage with full ownership rights to their great-grandmothers china, the china is considered non-marital property and remains with the original owner. If the parties purchase a home during the course of the marriage, this is likely considered marital property. Of course, there are legal exceptions.
As a starting point, make a list of all property, indicating whether you believe it is marital or non-marital. The list includes everything you both own, including the following:
- The family home;
- Any vacation homes (don’t forget the timeshare!);
- Retirement accounts;
- Savings accounts;
- Money market accounts;
- Cars; and
- household items.
It is a good idea to maintain a list, some couples prefer a spreadsheet, identifying all household items and other items of property.
Dividing the small stuff
As almost overwhelming as it may feel, start in a single room. Identify every object in the room including the artwork, furniture, items in drawers, etc. At the completion of the house, the list will include such mundane items as dishes, towels, and sheets, etc. as well as valuable art, rugs, and family photos. Each item must be identified and divided between the divorcing couple. Even if you find you can’t agree on everything, it is a good idea to start by agreeing on the things that make the most sense to you as a couple. For example, if one party is going to stay in the family home, it might make sense for the party to also retain the lion share of furniture. On the other hand, the party may wish to start fresh and would prefer new furniture for their new life.
There’s no right way to divide marital property. Some couples preferred to divide marital property using a round-robin system where each party takes a turn claiming various pieces of property. Other parties preferred to attempt an equal distribution of property by assigning a monetary value to each item and then “going shopping.” Still other couples find it is easy to identify and divide certain property, while finding other property more challenging to divide. In this situation, it is best to identify and divide as much property as possible – leaving the rest to the lawyers to attempt to negotiate. Any property which cannot be negotiated may be subject to a judicial determination.
Divorce lawyers generally agreed the worst approach to dividing property is to leave it to the courts. In no situation does each party get exactly what they want, however leaving the decisions to the judge can almost certainly guarantee a disastrous apportionment of property.
If you are considering divorce
If you are considering a divorce, contact the highly reputable and experienced divorce attorney in Cincinnati, Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary D. Smith has the experience needed for a successful outcome. Contact us today to discuss your case at (513) 275-1164 or for further information please visit www.ZDSLaw.com.