Read part 1 here.
It is also very important for you to know if you reside in a Community Property State or an Equitable Distribution State. There are nine Community Property States: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Community Property states consider both spouses as equal owners of all marital property (a 50-50 split is the rule).
The remaining 41 states are Equitable Distribution states. Settlements in Equitable Distribution States do not need to be equal, but they should be fair and equitable. In Equitable Distribution, several factors are taken into account, including the financial situation of each spouse when dividing assets. Some of the factors considered are:
- The length of the marriage.
- The income or property brought into the marriage by each spouse.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The age and physical/emotional health of each spouse.
- The income and earning potential of each spouse.
- The financial situation of each spouse when the divorce is finalized.
- The contribution of a spouse to the education, training or earning power of the other.
- The needs of the custodial parent to maintain the lifestyle for the children.
In addition to these, a court can consider any other factors that it feels might be relevant. This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to predict the outcome. The bottom line here is that, if possible, you want to stay out of court. There's a good reason why more than 95% of all divorces are ultimately settled out of court.
Please remember that debts usually get divided in divorce as well. However, Community Property states treat debt differently than Equitable Distribution states, so please make sure that you consult with an experienced divorce specialist.
Hopefully this information will help you as you are going through your divorce. But as you can see, this can be an extremely complicated process filled with unseen potholes. Having a competent divorce financial professional on your team can help you get your fair share of those assets that you've worked so hard to accumulate.
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