When a married couple decides to pursue a divorce, the division of property is often one of the most confusing and contested issues that must be settled. You may wonder about your financial or otherwise tangible assets prior to your marriage and those you obtained after you said your vows. What about the inheritance you received a few years back or the years that you worked and took on the household responsibilities so your spouse could obtain further job training or education? Who will be liable for the credit card bills or the mortgage? There are so many factors to be considered, and each state has its own approach.
To ensure that your assets are correctly divided in your divorce, work with a knowledgeable Huntsville asset division attorney. The investment to hire legal representation is usually a wise one as those who do generally get more in their divorce settlements.
What is Property Division in a Divorce?
For the purposes of a divorce, a couple’s property is divided into two categories – marital property and separate property. Property division or equitable distribution is the legal process that divides the property rights and obligations of each spouse in a divorce.
Property can be divided through negotiations or by a family court judge depending upon the type of divorce you and your spouse decide to pursue. State laws will also dictate how equitable distribution occurs. Your Huntsville asset division attorney can explain more about how these laws apply to your specific situation.
The courts will look at several factors when dividing property. These can include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage by each spouse
- The expected ability of each spouse to provide for themselves after the divorce
- Each spouse’s childcare responsibilities post-divorce
- Whether one spouse committed adultery or was abusive during the marriage
Marital property can include money, investments, real estate, business assets, and retirement accounts. Other types of valuables that were purchased or otherwise obtained in the course of the marriage are also subject to division.
Is Alabama a Community Property State?
Many states are community property states that split assets 50/50 when a divorce occurs. Community property states do not take into account what property was owned before the marriage. Alabama is not a community property state. However, if an Alabama judge determines that property or income produced by a property has been utilized routinely for the common benefit of the marriage, they can take that into consideration when dividing property.
Alabama uses the concept of equitable distribution in a divorce. Under this concept, the only property that is at risk of division in a divorce is property that was acquired over the course of the marriage. Anything acquired by either spouse before the marriage took place will be the property of the respective spouse and subject to being divided between the two spouses in a divorce.
Alabama law mandates that the courts take into account any non-monetary contributions of either spouse during the marriage when determining property division. Sometimes a judge will award a more significant percentage of the marital property to the spouse who contributed in non-monetary ways to the marriage. In general, the judge will consider the value of the work a stay-at-home spouse contributed to the marriage. This work includes:
- Household chores and maintenance
- Taking care of children
- Supporting the spouse professionally
In some states, the financial misconduct of one spouse, such as high spending on a credit card or spending money gambling, can be considered when dividing property. However, Alabama is not one of those states. Alabama does take into account a spouse’s contribution to the other one’s education while they were married. These contributions can be monetary or in other ways, such as raising children or making other sacrifices. If you contributed to your marriage in this way, your Huntsville asset division lawyer could help you leverage that in your divorce proceedings.
How Prenuptial Agreements Can Impact Property Division
Before getting married, some couples mutually agree to sign a prenuptial agreement. This agreement is usually about who gets what if the marriage ends in a divorce. A proper prenup that is signed and correctly executed will take precedence over any property division laws that Alabama has.
Prenup agreements dictate finances during the marriage and also their division in the event of a divorce. However, your Huntsville asset division attorney can examine your agreement to determine if it is legally binding. If not, this fact can be used in your favor when it comes to dividing assets belonging to the marriage.
Debts in Divorce
Most Americans have at least one type of debt. In addition to assets in a divorce, debts must also be split up to determine who is responsible for each of them. Credit cards, home loans, car loans, and any other type of debt will be handled in the divorce. In this state, if one spouse owned a debt before the marriage, it will remain theirs when the marriage is over.
If a debt was incurred during the marriage, it would be subject to division, just like the marital assets. It is essential to not only be honest with your Huntsville asset division lawyer about your assets but also about your debts.
Schedule Your Consultation with a Seasoned Huntsville Asset Division Lawyer Today
Like most people facing a divorce, you may be confused and worried about how asset division will occur and how it will impact your life going forward. Alabama’s equitable distribution laws may seem simple in theory, but in practice, they can be multifaceted and tough to apply.
A knowledgeable Huntsville asset division attorney at Cloud, Ryan & Rouse can evaluate your assets and provide you with the legal knowledge and guidance you need to receive what is justly yours. Our attorneys have helped many clients just like you navigate property division to their benefit.
Call Cloud, Ryan & Rouse today at 256-801-1000 or use our convenient online contact form to schedule your divorce case consultation.