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The Division of Marital Assets and Debt During Divorce

Posted on in Family Law

Milwaukee property division attorneys, property division, division of marital assets, debt division, community propertyDividing marital property and debts is one of the key tasks in a divorce. Property division can be complex and contentious if many types of assets and debts are involved and the parties do not agree on how to split community property.

Determining Community Property

Wisconsin is a community property state. This means that any assets or debts acquired during the the course of the marriage (or acquired after the married couple moves to Wisconsin) belong to both spouses. Assets can include income earned by either party, investment and retirement accounts, and any property purchased regardless of whose name is on the title.

If you have a valid prenup, the size of the community property may be more limited. Additionally, there may be property that is considered separate property and is owned by only one spouse.

Classic examples of separate property include:

  • Gifts to one spouse;
  • Property inherited by one spouse;
  • Property owned by one spouse before the marriage (or move to Wisconsin); and
  • Property acquired by one spouse after the separation.

Determining what is separate property may be a difficult task. Moreover, property can become so intermingled with community property that a court may classify it as community property, even if the property began as separate property.

For example, one may share a checking account with his or her spouse and deposit a sum of money he or she inherited from a relative into the account. Essentially, this individual has converted those funds from separate property to community property. It does not matter that the person could later prove to a court how much money was deposited in the account that was once separate property.

Splitting the Community

Once the property that makes up the community is determined, the property will be divided between the spouses. The court will attempt to divide the property and debts of the marriage equally. However, there are reasons why a court may order one party to receive more of the community. Reasons include the following:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The property with which the spouses entered the marriage;
  • Substantial separate property belonging to one of the parties;
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, such as child rearing duties; and
  • The earning capacity of each spouse.

For example, if the wife did not work during the marriage in order to take care of the children, and thus had a low earning capacity, a court may determine that it is equitable that she leave the marriage with a greater piece of the community because she gave up education or work.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, Divorce Lawyer About Your Case

If you would like to know how a court will likely split your community property, a property division lawyer can help. A knowledgeable attorney can develop legal arguments as to why certain property should be classified as separate or community, which can therefore result in the division of community property with minimal intervention from a court.

Call the accomplished Milwaukee property division attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP at 414-271-1440 for legal assistance today.

Sources:

http://www.wisbar.org/forpublic/ineedinformation/pages/marriage-marital-property.aspx

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/767/VII/61

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

330 East Kilbourn Avenue
Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Phone: 414-271-1440
Fax: 414-271-7680
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