Division of Assets Attorney in Auburn
Divorce is never an easy decision, and unfortunately, the entire process is plagued with difficult choices and negotiations. This is particularly true during the division of assets. When a marriage ends, the property acquired during the marriage must be fairly distributed to both parties. Each state has their own laws for this, so it’s important to become familiar with Alabama laws and guidelines so you know what to expect.
If you are looking for assistance with your divorce case, call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892. Our team is ready to help you get through this process with minimal stress.
Community Property vs. Marital Property
The first thing you should know is that Alabama is not a community property state. In community property states, marital property is divided 50/50 between the divorcing parties during a dissolution. Alabama law states that marital property should be divided in an equitable way. This does not mean that each party gets half; it means that each party gets what is fair, based on a number of different factors. Marital property is anything that was owned by the couple after the start of the marriage.
Some separate property may be considered marital property if it was used by both parties throughout the marriage. If you want to have separate property considered during division of assets, you will need evidence showing that both parties benefited from the use of the asset during the marriage.
Factors in Division of Assets
Each judge has discretion when deciding how assets should be equitably distributed. Factors that may come into play in your case include:
- Either party’s previous marriages
- Length of the current marriage
- Each individual’s age, health, income, earning ability, employability, and needs
- Each party’s contribution to the other’s education or training
- Future earning ability of each party
- Other sources of income
- Each party’s contributions as a homemaker, parent, or earner
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Each party’s individual property
- Child custody and who will provide childcare
- Tax consequences
Individually Owned Property
Assets that each individual brought into the marriage and maintained as their own throughout the marriage are considered separate property. Some assets obtained during the marriage may also be viewed as separate property, depending on who paid for, maintained, used, and benefited from those assets.
Many people wonder if their non-monetary contributions to the marriage and whether or not those contributions may entitle them to a greater share of marital property. This is often the case in marriages where one party is the primary earner and the other performs homemaking and childcare duties. In these cases, the high-earning party may feel entitled to assets that their money paid for during the marriage, while the homemaking party may feel like their contributions to the marriage must also be recognized.
Alabama judges do consider non-monetary contributions to a marriage. They consider that the party who took on childcare and homemaking duties did so at a cost to their own career and educational opportunities, and as a result, they may be entitled to compensation.
Real Property and Personal Property
Property is typically viewed as either real or personal. Real property is land and any buildings on the land. This is often more difficult for divorcing couples to divide, as land may have personal importance to one individual. Additionally, there may be disagreements over whether or not the property should be sold to fairly divide the proceeds. The buyout process can be time-consuming, which is one reason it’s recommended that you work with an experienced divorce attorney throughout this process.
Personal property is everything else that can be moved, such as furniture, cars, motorcycles, boats, jewelry, artwork, and other items.
Creating an Inventory
As early as possible during the divorce process, it is recommended that you create an inventory of all possible assets and debts. This gives you time to recall any assets you may have forgotten and add them to the list. This is especially important if you think that the other party may sell or give away assets to prevent them from being divided up during divorce proceedings. Include on this list any retirement accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, and other accounts where the other party could try to hide income or funds.
How Fault Affects Property Division
If there is a substantial amount of property at stake, you may be considering filing for a fault-based divorce. Under these circumstances, a judge will look at both spouses’ behavior during the marriage and use it as a factor in determining how to divide property equitably. This can be favorable for a victim of abuse, adultery, mistreatment, or abandonment as they begin to pick up the pieces and move forward with their life.
Protecting Your Best Interests During Divorce
It is crucial to work with an experienced divorce attorney who is dedicated to serving your best interests during the divorce. While these factors impact how property is divided in court, in many cases it is better for the couple to come to an agreement through mediation or another type of alternative dispute resolution. This allows both parties to maintain control over the process, make concessions where they are willing, and decide which issues are non-negotiable. This is not always possible, particularly if one party is doing everything possible to create a contentious environment or has attempted to hide or squander assets, but you should discuss this option with your attorney.
Property division is a complex issue in divorce, and if you try to negotiate on your own without legal representation, you could end up without the assets you need to begin the next chapter of your life. Your attorney will help you understand all of the possible outcomes, decide where you are willing to compromise, and come up with a plan that will yield fair division of property.
We’re Here to Help During This Challenging Time
When you choose Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short, you can feel confident knowing that you have a team of experienced, dedicated attorneys on your side. Your Auburn divorce lawyer will be with you every step of the way, ensuring that you meet all filing deadlines, provide the necessary evidence, and fight for your rights as a parent and as an individual. To discuss your legal needs and plan your next steps, reach out to us now to schedule a consultation. Call us at 334-821-3892 or contact us online to get started.