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Property and Debt: How Are Both Divided in a Divorce?

In an ideal world, everyone would end up with their perfect marital partner the first time walking down the aisle. But divorce, it seems, is a necessary evil. After all, if we did it up old school, people would just accuse their wives of treason and have them beheaded rather than going through divorce, a la Henry VIII. Sometimes we think that love is enough (it usually isn’t). Sometimes people simply grow apart from one another. We grow, we change, and marriage is hard work. And when two people can’t find a way to keep a relationship going, there’s no reason for them to remain miserable and bitter for the rest of their lives. But getting a divorce is no simple matter. Hopefully you don’t have kids in the mix, since that makes everything more difficult. But even without children to shuffle around, you may have all kinds of assets, including a home to deal with, not to mention debt. How do you go about dividing up what you own and what you owe when you go decide to call it quits?

In some states the answer is easy thanks to no-fault divorce. In such cases, pretty much everything gets split down the middle, including both property and debt. Of course, there’s always the matter of alimony to settle, but strictly speaking, what you jointly own and/or owe you’ll go halfsies on. This might not seem terribly fair, but it generally only pertains to assets purchased or debt acquired during the course of the marriage. So if your partner had school loans beforehand, he or she will retain any remaining debt following the marriage. Or if one party has a family inheritance in the pipeline, a soon-to-be-ex spouse will likely have no claim to it, just for example (prenuptial agreements aside).

Now, not all cases are so easy, as you might imagine, which is why so many divorces end up in mediation, arbitration, or divorce court. The best case scenario in a dispute is that you can work with a mediator to iron out your differences and come to an agreement that is amenable to both parties. But if this isn’t possible, you might just have to shell out the dough for a divorce attorney to plead your case for you in front of a judge. Remember, in no-fault divorce states, it won’t matter if your spouse cheated on you with the nanny or the mailman. Even criminal charges may not change the outcome of divorce proceedings. But often the circumstances of the divorce will play a role in what is awarded to one party or the other.

The interesting thing about divorce law is that it’s not really absolute. Splitting assets and debts is messy business, and it’s difficult to predict how any divorce case will pan out, especially when people start pulling out intimate details of their lives together in order to discredit each other. For this reason you’ll certainly want to hire a reputable firm like The Law Office Martin Sir & Associates to represent you in your divorce proceedings. But if at all possible, you should probably shoot for an amicable resolution first, and your lawyer will likely recommend this. Even if you don’t love each other anymore, nobody wins when divorces turn ugly.

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