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Four things to think about when dividing assets in a divorce

Like other states, divorce in Kentucky and Ohio can be a fairly complicated ordeal even when the split is an amiable no-fault one. Of course the first order of business is sorting out the custody of the children and child support. But dividing assets can often be the more difficult and complicated part of a divorce, particularly when there are a significant number of major assets. From a strictly financial point of view, there may be retirement or pension plans, rental properties, stocks, money markets, safe deposit boxes and all the rest.

The situation surrounding each divorce is different, as are the assets, but here are four questions to think about.

What is non-marital property?

Generally speaking, non-marital property is assets brought into the marriage. They get to stay with the spouse who had them: this often includes family jewels, vacation homes previously tied to the family of one spouse, or keepsakes whose emotional worth may be much greater than a dollar amount. An inheritance received before the marriage should generally stay with the recipient. Even money received in a personal injury settlement can stay with the person it is awarded to.

What is marital property?

Marital property is money and assets gained while married. These are subject to an equitable division at the time of divorce. One spouse may land a major job with the accompanying bump in pay while the other raised the kids. In this case, the split may not be 50-50, but the mediator or judge will examine the circumstances in order to structure a fair (if not quite equitable) arrangement. Either way, if the asset comes while married, it counts as marital unless there is a previous legal arrangement that takes precedence.

What about debt?

It's important that all the debt accrued during the marriage be assigned, be it a mortgage, car loans, credit cards or other monies owed.

What is the commingling of assets?

It's important to be mindful of a comingling of assets. An example would be if you take money from the sale of a condo bought before marriage and use it on a down payment for a house you subsequently jointly occupy. That down payment would be a comingling of assets. If the couple lives in that condo for a while and jointly pays the mortgage, it's also a comingling of assets.

It would be easier if a prenuptial agreement is in place to set the template for the marriage's dissolution, but that isn't always the case. All the above is to be considered and negotiated in a way that both sides can agree upon. With this in mind, it's always a smart course of action to hire an attorney experienced in family law and high-asset property division cases to insure that, while the care and maintenance of the kids comes first, the financial interests of the party are also tenaciously protected.

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Gatlin Voelker,PLLC

Gatlin Voelker, PLLC
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