When it comes to filing for divorce, one of the most contentious issues can be the
division of property. If the divorcing couple has a substantial amount of assets including pensions, rental properties, stocks, retirement funds, etc., then dividing up the property becomes even more difficult. It is never easy for divorcing couples to decide who gets what and they to fight over every little thing, causing the
contested divorce to go on for months.
Fortunately, Alabama is an equitable distribution state- this means that if the couple cannot agree on how to divide up their property, then the court will take over and determine what the marital property is and what the value of it is. The court goes about this by conducting a thorough discovery process and listing out the marital assets and debts involved in the case. In the event of a divorce, all marital property is split between the two parties and separate property stays with the original owner. The court is not permitted to split separate property between the parties.
According to the court, separate property is considered to be anything that was obtained before the marriage or something that was gifted or inherited during the marriage. However, if you were to retitle your separate property, making your spouse a co-owner, and mix it in with your other marital assets, then it could be considered marital property. Furthermore, if you deposit your inheritance money that you received from a deceased family member into a joint bank account, then it could also be subject to division. On the other hand, things like 401(k)s and pensions are considered to marital property even if it is only under one spouse's name, because it was property obtained during the divorce.
As an equitable distribution state, Alabama divides up marital property in an equitable fashion, meaning that they do it according to what is fair. Dividing up the property fairly does not always mean that it is necessarily equal, so do not be expecting it to be split perfectly 50/50. If you and your spouse are able to reach a mutual agreement on how to divide up your assets, then you can create a Marital Settlement Agreement and have it approved by the court.
Property division laws can vary drastically depending on the state you live in, so be sure to speak with an experienced Alabama divorce attorney. Also keep in mind that marital misconduct could have an effect on the how the property is distributed. If you would like to ensure that your rights are protected during this process, contact a Birmingham divorce lawyer from Stephen F. Thompson, Jr., Attorney at Law. Call us today at (877) 816-0183.