Personal Property Agreements
One of the most contested issues in a divorce is often the division of assets and real property and each state has its own interpretation of the laws governing property division. One thing that many people facing a divorce are not aware of is the fact that there are really only two ways main ways their property will be divided in a divorce. The laws in all 50 states are based on either community property division or equitable property division.
Community property division attempts to divide all property and assets equally between spouses. This means houses, bank accounts and other investments will all be split down the middle. Debts will also be split the same way. Today there are nine states that use community property division; Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
All the remaining states rely on equitable distribution where the assets, debts and resources are divided according to what the court feels is the most “fair and just” split. In other words, community property division means a 50/50 split while equitable property division can be heavily biased toward one spouse or the other depending on how the court views the situation. Equitable property division is concerned with factors like the length of marriage, work history, future job prospects, the physical and mental health of both spouses, the source of assets, and the expense of raising children. The formulas used to calculate equitable distribution vary according to jurisdiction and can be quite complicated. The result is that it is never easy to predict the final outcome of property division in divorces subject to equitable distribution.
Before you file a divorce action you should familiarize yourself with the laws in your own jurisdiction in order to have a better idea of what to expect when you get to court. You can check with the courthouse in your particular jurisdiction or talk to a local divorce attorney to see what the rules are in your area. But there are a few things most people can do before appearing in court to lessen the expense and stress of splitting up their assets.
If you can come to a mutual agreement with your spouse on the division of personal property without using an attorney can save both and money and property divisions created by both spouses in agreement are more likely to be upheld by the court. When spouses create property division agreements based upon the reasonable needs of caring for children in the home, they will rarely be overturned by the court. In general, most courts will agree that gifts from family members should be given to the spouse whose side of the family they came from and any gifts given between spouses should remain with the spouse to whom they were given.