Should I Aim for Any Specific Divorce Settlement Terms?
In the U.S., the vast majority of divorces remain subject to a property division standard commonly referred to as “equitable distribution.” This standard holds that property acquired during the marriage is marital property and must be equitably divided upon the termination of the marriage. Of course, exceptions do apply to this general rule. For example, certain prenuptial agreement terms may override this standard, as may special forms of acquired property like gifts via inheritance made to one spouse or the other. But in general, property and assets acquired during the marriage must be equitably divided during the divorce.
This is not to say that every asset must be divided 50/50. For example, one spouse may choose to retain ownership of the marital home while the other spouse opts for retirement benefits equal to the value of the home. Some assets may be sold and their proceeds divided, while others may be distributed according to value. This process can be tricky when it comes to sentimental items with little commercial value, pets and other property that is simply difficult to divide equitably due to its unique value.
As a result, it is important to approach the process of property division carefully. Not every asset holds the same amount of commercial, sentimental and future value. Some assets may increase in value over time, while others may decrease. For example, motor vehicles do not retain their original value for long, whereas real estate may become increasingly valuable. In addition, some property is associated with added costs. For example, if you are not prepared to pay taxes on your home and/or may have trouble maintaining the home, it might not be the best choice to retain the house as part of your half of the marital property.
It is generally a good idea to speak with your attorney about your property division priorities before you begin negotiations or mediation. An attorney will be able to advise you about the options available to you and how retaining or letting go of each asset may affect your ability to obtain a truly fair divorce settlement.
Two of the most important issues you may wish to think about before you enter into the process of dividing your property are spousal support and matters affecting any children you may have. Some spouses opt to retain more of a couple’s assets and pay spousal support for a number of years. This may or may not be an ideal situation for you. In addition, you may want to think about how your decisions will impact your children. For example, if giving up the house means that you will have to move your kids to a new school district, such action should be considered carefully.
Help with Divorce Negotiations Is Available
If you have questions about the divorce process, please consider contacting an experienced family law attorney. Every couple’s situation is unique, so it is generally a good idea to seek legal counsel before making any hard and fast determinations about your divorce settlement goals. Once you have spoken to a divorce lawyer in Rockville, MD, like from the Law Office of Daniel Wright, better understands your unique situation, you will be better placed to make informed decisions about your approach moving forward.