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Divorcing? Might not want to count your assets before they hatch

The end of a marriage can be an extremely stressful and intimidating period in life. Perhaps you and your spouse have decided to take separate paths moving forward. While you are likely experiencing some emotional challenges following the decision, these wounds may heal with time. The financial ramifications of divorce, however, could have a significant long-term impact on your future.

You probably want to protect your financial future following such a stressful life event. With the complex nature of the division of marital property, you may be unsure how to achieve this goal. Having knowledge of the distinct types of property could go a long way in preparing you for the road ahead.

Differences between community and separate property

In community property states, such as Wisconsin, marital assets are the property of and thus divided equally between, both spouses in the event of a divorce. Community property is generally comprised of anything acquired throughout the course of marriage, and some examples are as follows:

  • Income:  Any amount of money earned by either spouse, such as wages for employment, becomes community property.
  • Purchases:  Anything purchased with marital income will be the property of both spouses.
  • Interest:  Interest earned through investments during marriage also qualifies as marital property.

Separate property, however, remains the property of the owner, provided he or she didn't mix it with marital property in any way. Some examples of separate property can include the following:

  • Accounts:  If you had a bank account before your marriage and kept it separate throughout the marriage, you may retain sole possession following your divorce.
  • Inheritance/gifts:  You may retain possession of an inheritance or gift acquired before, or even during, your marriage, provided it remains separate from the marital assets.
  • Judgments:  Although sometimes considered community property while married, personal injury judgments go to the injured party in the event of a divorce.

Who can assist me throughout the process?

While at a glance, the division of assets may seem straightforward, it can be incredibly complex. For instance, if you are counting on retaining possession of separate assets, only to find out that your spouse is entitled to a portion thereof, the result can be devastating. To avoid a similar outcome, you might want to consider seeking guidance before entering the process.

You could speak with an experienced attorney for assistance throughout this stressful and daunting time. A family law attorney can advise you of the intricate nature of property division and fight to ensure you receive the full amount of marital property to which you are entitled. This type of advice may be crucial to protecting and preserving your financial future and helping you move forward in life.

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