In the majority of divorces, the parties need to divide personal property they acquired during the marriage. While personal property items are usually resolved without much argument, the occasional case involves highly contested personal property claims. The cases with contentious property claims usually involve high valued assets. Maybe the parties have several vehicles and toys such as boats, motorcycles, expensive cars, etc. Or perhaps the parities are fighting over a lot of money held in bank accounts, investments, or other financial assets. For these matters, litigants to the divorce should be aware of the following property principles:
First, there is no fixed formula from which the judge determines any division of property in divorce proceedings. The general baseline from which the court’s operate is the idea that marital property is typically awarded so that each spouse receives roughly a roughly equal share.”
Second, it is important to understand that generally speaking marital property is that property which was acquired by either party during the marriage. Separate property is any property owned by either party prior to the marriage.
The presumption of a 50/50 property split does not prevent the court from nonetheless determining a different division of property would be most equitable and also awarding title regardless of who actually holds title.
The overriding consideration for the court is that the division of property is equitable. This means a judge is permitted to do what he or she deems fair in any given case. However, a judge should not use the property division as punishment on either party.
A Utah Court attempting to make a fair property distribution in a divorce action should implement a four-step process, making findings of fact that are sufficiently detailed and that include enough subsidiary facts to disclose the steps by which the ultimate conclusion on each factual issue was reached: The steps the court must go through is as follows:
- First, the court should distinguish between separate and marital property.
- Second, the court should consider whether there are exceptional circumstances that overcome the general presumption that marital property should be divided 50/50 between the parties.
- Third, it should assign values to each item of marital property.
- Fourth, it should distribute the property in a manner consistent with its findings and with a view toward allowing each party to go forward with his or her separate life.
The general property division principles cited above hopefully help you get a foundation for how you should approach your personal property items in your respective divorce. For a detailed analysis of your claims, call and speak with a Salt Lake Divorce Attorney at Salcido Law Firm today.