Sometimes, spouses agree to an amicable divorce. They mutually decide to sell everything they own and divide the profits between them. However, this scenario is rare. In most situations, the division of property is often one of the most sensitive issues in a divorce.
If you are considering a divorce, or you’re having difficulty getting a fair division of your marital property, call Christensen Law right away. With over 35 years of experience serving families throughout Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas, we have what it takes to help you get the best possible outcome for your case.
When you choose Christensen Law, our skilled and compassionate family law attorneys will stand by your side during this difficult process, give you the tools to decide what’s best for your family, and fight to get you the divorce settlement you deserve. Don’t wait to get on the road to recovery. Contact Christensen Law online or call us today at (801) 303-5800 to set up your free consultation.
What Property Is Eligible for Division in a Divorce in Utah?
Property that might be eligible for division in a divorce involves a wide variety of assets. This property might include physical assets, such as the home where you live, household goods, rental or investment houses, cars, jewelry, and other valuable possessions. It might also include other assets, such as cash, wages, mutual funds, stocks, businesses, or retirement benefits, in addition to debts like mortgages, credit card balances, or car loans.
This first step in dividing all these different types of property is determining whether each asset is marital or personal property. While there are certain exceptions, most property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property. On the other hand, most of the assets that each spouse acquired before the marriage are considered personal property.
However, in order for a spouse to claim that their property is personal and not subject to division in the divorce, they must usually demonstrate that they have kept it completely separate throughout the marriage. For example, if one spouse owned a house before the marriage, but both spouses lived in the home and benefited from it throughout their union, then the house might be subject to divorce.
In another scenario, if one spouse has retirement benefits from a job they left long before the marriage, this asset might still be considered marital property. Former spouses can typically claim a right to each other’s retirement funds under certain circumstances, such as when a retirement asset gains substantial value during the marriage.
Some of the other assets that might be considered as either marital or separate property are gifts and inheritance. If one spouse received a gift or inheritance before the marriage and they kept it completely separate, then they will likely be able to keep this as their own personal property after the divorce.
However, they might lose this right if they commingled the funds in any way. For example, if a spouse used money from their inheritance to make improvements to the marital home, then their inheritance might be vulnerable to division in the divorce.
There are also other, rarer circumstances in which separate assets might become part of the divorce division.
What Factors Does a Utah Divorce Court Consider When Dividing Property?
Under Utah law, property is subject to an equitable division during a divorce. This doesn’t mean that the court will necessarily divide all assets in half. It means that the judge will look at multiple factors and decide how to divide the property in a manner they feel is fair and equitable to both spouses.
Some of the factors that the court might consider when dividing the marital estate include:
- The length of the marriage
- Sources of income for each spouse, including wages, rental properties, or other assets
- Non-monetary contributions to the marriage or the household, such as cleaning, cooking, supporting a spouse professionally or through their education, and taking care of the children
- Abilities of each spouse to earn future income
- The spouses’ ages, health, and individual needs
- The type and value of each asset in the marital estate
Determining the value of the couple’s assets is often complicated and time-consuming. The easiest way to find the value of the marital estate is to sell everything and divide the profits equitably. However, few couples want to take this option.
Any other valuation method typically requires the help of specialists, such as real estate experts, to find the value of the couple’s home or forensic accountants to determine the value of the couple’s financial assets. An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine the best option for your circumstances, and if needed, they can help you find trusted experts and specialists to accurately value your marital estate.
What If We Signed a Prenuptial or Premarital Agreement?
A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a legal document that couples sometimes sign before they’re married as a tool to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. However, even if a couple signed a prenuptial agreement, they might still be able to get some of their ex’s assets in the divorce. Any agreement must be reviewed to make sure it’s legally valid before it can be used as evidence in a divorce case.
If the agreement is determined to be a legal document, then it can provide proof that certain assets are one spouse’s personal property and are not subject to division. However, if one spouse has evidence of an unusual circumstance, such as they were forced to sign the agreement or their spouse fraudulently hid some of their assets, then the court might decide the prenuptial is not legally binding.
Contact a Salt Lake City Divorce Attorney
If you have any questions about the division of property in your divorce, contact Christensen Law today for your free consultation. Our dedicated family law attorneys have over 35 years of experience helping Utah families weather the painful process of divorce and get on the road to recovery. Let us do the same for you. Contact us today at (801) 303-5800 or online.