Dividing up marital assets and debts is not quite as easy as breaking out a calculator, splitting a bank account in half, and walking away. There may be houses, cars, credit cards, businesses, and retirement accounts to divvy up. The phrase “equitable distribution” does not mean an “equal distribution” of assets; it means a “fair distribution." In other words, a court may decide to give one spouse a cottage owned by the parties while giving the other spouse a valuable gun collection. The property split might not be exactly equal, but the Court is supposed to make it fair. Marital assets don’t all need to be individually sold and the proceeds split. That being said, we often equate fairness with equal divisions, so you can expect that assets and debts accumulated during a marriage are likely to be split somewhat equally.
Some assets that may appear to be owned by a married couple may actually be separate assets, owned by just one party. Those assets typically include items owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage, personal injury awards, gifts from people other than your spouse, and inheritances. Separate assets are not subject to division by the Courts.
Clients often have questions about how certain marital assets will be divided. In particular:
- Retirement Accounts
- Houses and second homes
We are often asked what might happen if a spouse conceals an asset. For example, if a spouse hides cash in an off-shore account, what might happen if the court finds out? Answer: the court may choose to punish the devious spouse by awarding the entire cash account to his or her husband or wife.
If you have questions about how an asset or debt might be split, contact me. I can guide you through the process of divorce, and we can help make sure the division of property in your divorce is fair. My number is (585) 204-7330, and we look forward to meeting you.