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Litigate or collaborate: two ways to divide marital property

Like most people heading toward a divorce, you probably never expected to be in this place. It is likely a time of conflicting emotions and a great deal of stress. Beyond the emotions, however, you may also have practical thoughts about what life will be like after your marriage has ended.

Specifically, you may be thinking about what happens to everything you and your spouse have accumulated over the years. You might be wondering what you'll get to keep and what you'll have to give up. This article might help clear up some of the mystery surrounding property division in Kentucky.

What assets do we have available for division?

Marital property is the term for the assets you and your spouse will divide. In Kentucky, all property and debts owned by either or both spouses are marital property. Even many items you or your spouse owned before the marriage are now marital property.

Marital assets might include:

  • Your home
  • Vacation property or an RV
  • Cars
  • Household items
  • Jewelry
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement funds

Do we each take away half the assets?

If you allow the court to split your assets for you, the division will typically be about even. This means each spouse will get around 50 percent of the combined value of the marital property. This does not guarantee which assets each person will get.

An uneven division of marital property may occur if the court sees just cause. Factors a judge may consider when awarding additional assets are:

  • Each spouse's contribution to the marital assets
  • If the asset was a gift or inheritance
  • Individual financial situations
  • If either spouse was deliberately wasting or destroying property

An alternative to the courts

When a couple gets a divorce, they are not required to settle all their issues in court. Where possible, it is good to come to agreements outside of a courtroom. Property division is an excellent example of a matter for which a collaborative approach may work well.

By working out an agreement together, you and your spouse may each come away with what you want and achieve a fairer settlement. If you can do so, the court will most likely approve your agreement, even if it is not an even split.

Help is always available

No aspect of bringing a marriage to an end is likely to be easy. This is a difficult time for any person, but it may be comforting to know that you do not have to work through your divorce alone.

Whether you choose litigation or collaboration, when dividing your marital assets, it may be of great benefit to work with a lawyer. With the guidance and support of an experienced lawyer, you may have the best chance of coming away with the most adequate settlement.

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