Property and debt division can be a contentious issue in many divorces. A property settlement requires an attorney with knowledge of accounting, property valuation, tax issues, and other financial matters. It also requires an attorney who has experience with Alabama family law judges and understands how the court tends to treat various items of property.
One of the functions of the court in a divorce is to make a division of property owned by the parties. It is within the discretion of the court to order a transfer of property owned individually by either spouse or jointly held property. Alabama law requires an equitable distribution. Equitable does not mean equal.
It is always better for a couple to reach their own property settlement agreement without going to trial. Divorce mediation can play a strong role in deciding property and debt division. The other choice is to go to trial and let a judge make the division. The judge may not see the property in the same light as you, and the property that is important to you may not be seen as such by the judge.
The first step to property division is to determine what property is marital property and what is separate property. Alabama has laws that determines what is and is not marital property.
Many factors come into play when the court is determining what is marital property. Marital property includes all property or assets accumulated during the marriage. This involves property gained individually and as a couple. Marital property includes income, houses, land, cars, pensions, 401(k), stocks, and anything - as well as debts incurred during the marriage.
Separate property is any asset or income accumulated by a person before the marriage, inherited or gifted to the person during the marriage, and property that has been solely owned or kept exclusively in that's person's name. Even though the property may be considered separate, the court may still consider any increase in value of the separate property to be part of the marital estate.
To be fair and equitable, the court must consider several factors when dividing property. These factors include:
The court has the power to order either party to give or convey his or her interests in property, stock, vehicles, or real estate to the other party in exchange for the release of marital obligations.
Just as a couple's property is divided so are their debts. Debts are examined in a similar manner as property and are determined to be marital debts or individual debts. Like property division, debts are also divided between the parties according to the principles of equitable distribution. So long as the debt was acquired during the marriage, the court will not examine which party incurred the debt, except under certain circumstances. Any debt incurred before you were married is your individual debt.
The choices you make when going through a divorce will affect you and your child for years to come. As an experienced Alabama divorce attorney, I have helped hundreds of divorcing couples divide their assets fairly and equitably. I have the knowledge of property valuation, accounting and tax issues to assist you in all matters regarding marital property settlements. Call Melissa Miller Law Firm LLC to schedule your initial consultation today so I can help guide you through the division of property and debts in your divorce.
Let us help you make informed decisions regarding division of property and debt in your divorce. Call or schedule online via our home page your initial consultation today.
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