A divorce may be amicable, but emotions can get in the way when it becomes time to talk about property division. If you have been married for a long time, chances are high that you have plenty of marital assets to consider. Even when you haven't been married for very long, you may have accumulated wealth together that needs to be divided up. In the event you have marital debts, this is also property that must be divided up in a divorce. If you live in a community property state, assets and debts are divided up in half. In equitable distribution states, everything is divided up in a way that is deemed fair.
When You Brought Assets to the Marriage
There's a difference between marital assets and assets that you brought to the marriage. For example, if you purchased a home that becomes the marital home, this is generally considered separate property. Once both of you are living in the home, any equity you build in the home becomes marital property. While it can get complicated, assets that you gain together are marital property that must be separated.
Assets That are Yours to Keep
When you keep certain funds separate, such as an inheritance or personal injury settlement, this is your separate property. A good example is if you inherit $100,000. You can keep the entire amount separate, or decide to share some of the money. If you put $20,000 of your inheritance into a joint bank account, this becomes a marital asset.
Dividing Up Marital Assets
Marital assets can include jointly held bank accounts, home equity you have built together, cars you purchased in both of your names, or IRA contributions that were made with marital assets. When you are dividing up assets, both parties are entitled to funds put into a retirement account, even if that account is only in one party's name. Once you begin dividing up assets, you may discover that your divorce is not so amicable anymore.
When Debt is Involved
Marital debt is divided up much like assets. If you have your own credit card, it's yours to deal with. When you have debts accrued by both of you, these are shared and divided up.
As you separate your property, always allow a divorce law attorney to look over your separation agreement before you sign anything. Make sure the deal is fair to you so that you protect yourself in the divorce.