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Answers to questions about property division

One of the most difficult things to determine during a divorce -- other than issues involving children -- is who gets what property. The property that each spouse came into the marriage with is generally considered separate property and remains with that spouse. However, other property that was acquired after the marriage or with mutual money will need to be divided.

It can be difficult to list all of your property. For example, the family home, vehicles, equipment, retirement accounts and stocks are generally considered married property. If the judge decides who gets what property, you can't assume that it will be a 50/50 split. Instead, it is meant to be fair.

Separate property can include gifts to one spouse during the marriage, an inheritance received by one spouse or a personal injury judgment received by one spouse. However, if these items appreciate during the marriage, then the amount of appreciation is considered marital property.

If money is deposited into an account that has both spouses names on it, then it is generally considered marital property, as is anything bought with that money.

While most soon-to-be ex-spouses want to know what assets they will get to keep, it's better to think of it this way: which assets will provide for you more in the future?

As you can see, dividing property can be difficult, time consuming and acrimonious. While you certainly want to fight to keep the assets you deserve, not every last item is worth fighting for. Your divorce attorney can help you discover more about your rights in the situation.

Source: Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, "Who Gets What? Dividing Property During Divorce," accessed May. 08, 2015

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