If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, and live in one of the nine U.S. states that abides by the "community property" principle, you may be wondering how your assets will be divided in the divorce settlement -- and whether there is anything you can do to change the presumed 50-50 split. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure you receive an equitable portion of your joint assets. Read on to learn more about how property division is handled in community property states, as well as what you can do to protect yourself.
What is a community property state?
Property division is handled differently in each state, depending on local laws and procedures. In some states, you will be permitted to leave the marriage with the assets you brought into the marriage, and assets accrued during the marriage may be divided based on each spouse's salary or other financial contribution to the household.
However, in community property states, all marital assets (including those brought into the marriage, or inherited from a deceased parent or other relative during the marriage) are considered equally owned by both spouses. There is a presumption toward equal distribution of these assets upon divorce, even if one spouse stayed at home or did not otherwise financially contribute to the marriage.
What can you do to tilt the presumption in your favor?
Although community property states default to the 50-50 asset split, there are several fact patterns that may be able to skew the odds in your favor.
In some cases, you may be able to keep more than 50 percent of certain assets if you agree to provide your ex-spouse with alimony payments for a specified period of time. For example, if you were the primary breadwinner while your spouse stayed at home to raise children, you may be able to keep a larger proportion of retirement accounts and other liquid assets by providing your ex-spouse with alimony and child support payments to help him or her pay the bills while he or she is seeking employment.
In other situations, you may be able to argue for the exclusion of certain assets from the marital pool. Inheritances are a good example of this. If you received a substantial inheritance from a parent, and it is clear that the parent did not intend this inheritance to benefit your ex-spouse, you may be able to exclude it from the 50-50 division.
For more information, contact Nevada Legal Forms & Tax services or a similar company.