Utah divides assets and liabilities equitably – and this does not necessarily mean equally. To protect your interests during a divorce, choose an experienced property division attorney in Salt Lake County. South Jordan-based Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC is dedicated to helping clients navigate the process of dividing debts and assets.
How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Utah?
Couples have two types of assets and liabilities: non-marital and marital. Non-marital assets and liabilities are those that a spouse owned before the marriage. Gifted and inherited assets, even if gifted or inherited during the marriage, are also non-marital property.
All other assets and debts are marital and are subject to equitable distribution. Furthermore, commingled assets that belonged to one spouse before the marriage are usually considered marital assets.
For example, if the husband had a bank account with $25,000 in it, added his wife’s name to the account, and then used the account to pay marital debts, the account becomes a marital asset that is divided equitably. In many cases, simply adding a spouse’s name to an account makes it a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. Several factors determine what percentage of each asset is awarded to each spouse.
Factors Affecting Property Division
If you and your spouse cannot amicably divide assets and debts, the court will do it for you. In most cases, it is better that you come to an agreement on the fair and equitable distribution of property. While the court will come to a fair and equitable distribution, you may not get an asset that you want.
When determining how to divide assets equitably, courts consider:
- How long the parties were married
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage
- The future needs of each spouse
- Alimony awards
- Child custody
- The health and age of each spouse, which includes employability, potential retirement, and business chances after the divorce
- The occupation of each spouse, which determines earning power
- Each spouse’s education as it pertains to employability
- The non-marital assets of each spouse
Debts are considered in much the same way, but do have some additional parameters:
- Premarital agreements
- Real property may be sold, one spouse may buy the other out, or one spouse may keep the marital home in exchange for other assets. If the real property is sold, equity is divided equitably between the spouses. Generally, if one spouse keeps the house, that spouse is responsible for the mortgage. If possible, the mortgage should be refinanced to protect the other spouse.
- Vehicle payments are generally paid by the spouse who keeps the vehicle. If the parties have two vehicles, each spouse gets one along with the corresponding car payment.
Retirement plans and pension benefits are handled a bit differently. In most cases, if a plan or benefit is considered a marital asset, the person whose name is on the account gets it. However, if the plan or benefit skews the equitable distribution, the court will split it. If only one spouse’s name is on the plan or benefit, the court enters a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to order the account holder to divide it between the spouses as dictated by the court.
How Is Property Value Determined?
The amount of money a piece of property is worth is defined as a fair and impartial assessment of the property’s value. An accurate evaluation of real property value is determined by a professional real estate appraiser. In general, household items are not included in the division of assets during a divorce unless there are items of significant value. Personal property like furniture, collectibles, and vehicles will be determined by the resale value.
Contact Eric M. Swinyard & Associates, PLLC Today
If you need help navigating the property division process, our asset and debt division lawyers in Salt Lake County are just a phone call away. We look forward to protecting your rights and representing you throughout your case.
Reach out to us today at (801) 515-4133.
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