Division of Assets Attorney in Auburn, AL
If you are facing a divorce in Auburn, dividing the financial assets and debts is sure to be among the most contentious issues. This is especially true in divorces in which the couple has significant assets. When a marriage is dissolved in Alabama, the marital property must be divided fairly and equitably, so one of the spouses does not get shortchanged.
The division of property could be negotiated between the spouses, or if the spouses cannot come to an agreement, then a court will have to decide how everything is divided. It is generally best for the spouses to work it out between themselves, so they have more control over who ends up with which assets. But of course, this is not possible in all cases. Whatever your situation, you will want a seasoned family law attorney in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
At the Alsobrook Law Group, we have several years of experience representing clients for divorces and other family legal matters in Auburn and surrounding Alabama communities. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of all of the important issues that need to be resolved during a divorce, including division of property, and we work closely with our clients to provide strong legal representation and moral support during one of the most difficult times in their life.
Dividing the marital estate is not always a simple task, and sometimes, it requires extensive negotiations and beyond in order to resolve everything. We will stand by your side during the entire process to help ensure a positive result that protects your interests while preserving delicate family relationships.
Community Property vs. Fair and Equitable Distribution
The first thing that divorcing spouses should realize when it comes to division of property is that Alabama not a community property state. In a community property state, all of the property that was accumulated during the marriage is considered to be jointly owned by both spouses, and therefore it is divided 50/50 in a divorce.
Alabama uses the fair and equitable distribution standard, which means that division of property needs to be done fairly and equitably, but this does not necessarily mean that each spouse gets exactly half.
For example, an Auburn couple might have only two significant assets – a house with $75K in equity and an investment account valued at $70K. In this case, it might make the most sense to give the marital home to one of the spouses and the investment account to the other, even though they are not worth exactly the same.
There are a number of factors that might be used by the court to determine how marital property is divided in Alabama, these include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age, income, health, needs, and earning ability of each spouse
- The established standard of living during the marriage
- The contributions of each spouse to the family finances
- A spouse’s contribution as a homemaker
- The contributions of one spouse to the furtherance of the other spouse’s career
- Tax consequences
What is Considered Marital Property in Auburn, AL?
Even before getting into the division of property during an Alabama divorce, there is often the question of which property is considered “marital” in the first place. Some of the answers might be surprising. For example, a lot of people believe that an IRA or 401(k) belongs to the individual whose name it is under. But in actuality, the assets that were accumulated in this account after a couple was married are considered marital assets.
Generally, marital property is anything that was acquired or accumulated after the spouses were married. However, there some exceptions to this. Property that is received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance is usually not considered marital property. On the other hand, if nonmarital property gets co-mingled with marital property to the point where it is impossible to determine which portion of it is marital and which is nonmarital, then it will probably be considered all marital property.
For example, if one of the spouses inherits $50K, these funds were put toward a down payment on a home that is in the name of both spouses, and the couple has lived in the home and paid the mortgage and other expenses out of joint funds, then the home is almost certainly going to be considered a part of the marital estate.
As if this was not complicated enough, things can become more challenging when there is an asset that a spouse brought into a marriage, but the asset accumulated significant value during the marriage.
For example, a retirement account that was open shortly before the couple was married, but most of its value is derived from contributions and appreciation that occurred while the couple was married. In such a case, there may be an attempt to determine which part of the account is marital and which is nonmarital. However, if it is not possible to accurately distinguish between the two, the entire account could end up being considered marital property.
The Role of a Marital Agreement in Division of Property
More and more married couples are entering into prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) is signed before the couple is married, and a postnuptial agreement is signed shortly after the marriage. The terms and conditions of an existing marital agreement would generally take precedence over Alabama’s division of property laws as long as the agreement is legally enforceable and a court determines that it is fair.
If a court believes that a marital agreement unfairly favors one spouse over the other, then they might overrule it. Other reasons why such an agreement might be nullified include:
- The agreement was not properly executed, for example, it is an oral and not a written agreement, or it lacks the signatures of both parties and is not notarized.
- The agreement is poorly or vaguely worded, and it is difficult to determine its meaning.
- One spouse was forced to sign the agreement under duress, or they were not in their right mind (e.g., intoxicated) when they signed it.
- One spouse failed to disclose all of his/her income and assets to the other spouse when the agreement was signed.
- The agreement is unconscionable and/or contains invalid provisions, such as child support payments which cannot be addressed with an agreement like this.
Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Auburn, AL Division of Property Lawyer
Dividing marital assets can be one of the most stressful aspects of any divorce. At the Alsobrook Law Group, we understand this, and we will be your advocates throughout the entire process. If you are considering a divorce in Auburn, Opelika, or nearby Alabama communities, message us online or call our office today at (334) 737-3718 to speak with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!