Property Division in a Maine Divorce
It’s a common refrain among any divorcing couple: who gets the house? Who gets the car, the boat? After dealing with child custody issues, the most contentious part of many divorces occurs when spouses attempt to divide property amongst themselves. It is recommended that those who are divorcing exhaust every attempt to work with their (soon-to-be ex) spouse in order to come up with an amicable solution.
In some instances, though, it is possible that divorcing couples must go to court after reaching an impasse. This blog will explore how property division, formally known as disposition of property, in a Maine divorce is handled in the courts.
It’s a somewhat-common myth that spouses get an equal share of the pie when it comes to disposition of marital property. In Maine, judges are bound by the “equitable distribution” standard. This means that marital property is to be divided in a manner that is fair and equitable to both parties—not necessarily an equal 50/50 split, though that is sometimes the case.
So, what is marital property? For lack of a better term, marital property is what’s at stake during divorce proceedings. Generally speaking, marital property is considered to be all assets each spouse gains during the marriage. There are a handful of exceptions, like inheritances, certain gifts, assets exchanged for separate property, and any property designated as separate property in prenuptial agreements. These exceptions, along with property acquired prior to the marriage or after a decree of legal separation, are considered to be separate property. Also, keep in mind that debt accumulated during the course of the marriage is considered marital and must be divided in an equitable manner as well.
Hybrid of Marital and Separate Property
Some assets can be a mixture of marital and separate property. For instance, let’s say Dave started a food truck business prior to his marriage with Alex. During the marriage, both spouses contribute sweat equity to the business. Dave and Alex mutually agree to divorce several years after they tied the knot. Though Dave started the business, the food truck business, which started as separate property, was commingled into marital property due to Alex’s contributions.
Though there are countless ways that a business in a divorce can be handled, Dave and Alex cannot agree on how best to split the business. So, when Dave and Alex are making inventories of their separate and marital property, it might take some probing to determine how much of the business’s value can be attributed to marital property versus separate property.
Other complex assets, like marital houses, can be tricky to split between divorcing spouses. Again, we recommend that you attempt to come to an agreement regarding property division with your spouse in order to maintain some control over the final divorce decree. However, you still need quality legal counsel whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. The Maine Divorce Group features a legal team skilled in helping settle and litigate all types of divorces, and we would be honored to help you during yours. Let’s talk soon; schedule a consultation with our team today.
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Divorce is a highly emotional and stressful experience for most people. But you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Having a strong divorce attorney in your corner can help ensure that you and your children walk away from this process with the best opportunities available for future success and happiness.