Getting a divorce is never easy, particularly if you and your spouse have acquired many high-value assets over the years. As you begin the divorce process and start determining who should get what in the divorce, it is important to have a basic understanding of how the courts will go about the property division process.
Alabama, an equitable distribution state
A majority of states in the U.S. have implemented equitable distribution laws when it comes to property distribution in a divorce. In other words, courts will have the power to decide how to divide up the property “fairly and equitably,” instead of having to divide everything equally.
Separate and marital property
First, the courts will categorize a piece of property as separate or marital property:
- Separate property – Any property brought into the marriage by either spouse or acquired by a spouse after separation could be considered separate property. Generally gifts, inheritances, personal injury awards, or debts belonging to one spouse only are considered separate property.
- Marital property – Most property not classified as separate property will be classified as marital property. Martial property refers to property acquired during the marriage. Separate property that has been commingled with marital property (e.g. using marital income to pay off car purchased by one spouse before marriage) is typically also considered marital property.
Property division factors
The court will then consider a number of factors to divide the marital property between the divorcing spouses. Some of these factors may include:
- The length of the marriage
- Each party’s individual needs
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Each party’s financial contributions and non-financial contributions during the marriage
- Each party’s age, health, income, education levels, and employability
Distributing the property can be one of the more complicated parts of a divorce. A family law attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that you leave the marriage financially stable and with the things that mean the most to you.