When a married couple files for a separation or divorce, important legal questions may come up regarding how their assets will be divided. You should speak with a DC property division lawyer if you are dealing with a divorce and have questions about what property is marital property, which must be equitably distributed if the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement about how their assets will be divided..
It is best to consult with a seasoned family law attorney who may be able to help you classify your assets as your sole and separate property that would be awarded solely to you or marital property that is subject to equitable distribution by the court in the absence of an agreement between the parties. We can help ensure that all assets subject to equitable distribution are identified and accurately valued.
Separately Owned Assets Versus Marital Property
Determining whether property is classified as separate property or marital property is an essential part of asset division. Any property acquired during the course of the marital union would be categorized as marital property, whereas assets obtained by one or both parties prior to marriage would be considered separate property and remain the sole property of that person. Gifts or inheritance should be classified as separate property.
While marital property must be equitably distributed upon divorce or separation, separate property is retained by the original owner. It is possible for the lines between sole and separate versus marital property to be blurred. While the increase in value of sole property is considered sole property, for example, the income derived from sole property during the marriage may be considered marital property. For example, the rental income from a property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage may be considered marital property because the rental income is earned during the marriage.
A skilled asset division lawyer in Washington DC can help locate and account for all property acquired before and during a person’s marriage. An attorney may be able to help you reach an agreement about how marital assets and debts should be split with your soon-to-be former spouse. An attorney can also represent you and argue how marital property or assets should be distributed to you if you cannot reach an agreement.
The Equitable Distribution of a Divorcing Couple’s Assets
In situations where divorcing spouses are unable to agree on the division of their shared assets, a family law judge must equitably distribute the marital property. Equitable distribution means that the debts and assets of the divorcing spouses would be divided fairly as opposed to 50/50. What the court may rule is an equitable distribution may seem unfair to you. An experienced lawyer may be able to make a strong argument to justify why you should be awarded more marital property or why the other party should be awarded more of the marital debt.
There are many factors that can contribute to the court’s ultimate decision, such as the financial circumstances, debts, physical wellbeing, and ages of either party. The court would also consider how each party added to the growth or decline of the value of their marital assets, the reasonable future earning capacities of each spouse, whether one party is being paid spousal support, and how long the marriage lasted. In addition, even though DC is a no-fault divorce jurisdiction, meaning that neither party must prove fault of the other party, such as infidelity, fault can matter in determining what is an equitable distribution of marital property. A spouse at fault may be at risk of having less marital property awarded to him or her.
Couples who remained unmarried but enter into a domestic partnership are also subject to equitable distribution laws in the case of a dissolution of the domestic partnership. A person facing separation, divorce, or the dissolution of a domestic partnership should consult with a DC property allocation attorney to learn more about how their assets could be impacted by equitable distribution.
Get Advice from a Seasoned DC Property Division Attorney
It may be prudent to seek advice from a DC property division lawyer if you need help crafting an agreement about how your assets in a divorce case should be divided. An attorney who knows the law and the factors used by the court to determine the equitable distribution of assets could help protect your property rights. Book your introductory case review by calling today.