Salt Lake City Division of Property Lawyer Provides Strong Counsel
Experienced Utah divorce attorney works to safeguard your financial security
When a couple divorces in Utah and cannot reach an agreement on the division of marital property, courts use a process called equitable distribution to divide assets and debts between the two spouses. This might not result in 50-50 split, because the judge issues an order based on what he or she thinks is fair. Of course, fairness is in the eye of the beholder, so there is plenty of room for disagreement. For this reason, you need a knowledgeable and experienced divorce lawyer to oversee the process. Attorney Victoria Cramer, a member of the Pia Hoyt firm, draws on more than 25 years of family law practice to help her clients obtain the division of property they deserve. At her Salt Lake City office, she takes meticulous care to ensure total transparency and to make a persuasive case to the court.
Marital versus separate property in a Utah divorce
In a Utah divorce, the term property refers to assets and debts belonging to one or both of the parties. This property falls into two categories:
- Marital property — Assets and debts that belong to the marital estate and are subject to equitable distribution between the spouses.
- Separate property — Assets and debts owned solely by one spouse.
The first step in the equitable distribution process is for each spouse to submit a financial disclosure listing all property and stating whether the property is marital (therefore subject to distribution) or separate (not subject to distribution). Parties claiming separate property must present evidence supporting sole ownership. Generally, separate property consists of:
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Property acquired by one spouse during the marriage using only separate property
- Individual gifts and inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage
Marital property consists of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, including income earned by either spouse, retirement benefits from one spouse’s employment and gifts from one spouse to another. Assets that are in the marital estate must have value assessed. Items such as the home, real estate, fine art and jewelry often require professional appraisals.
Classifying a particular asset can be complicated. Separate property can be converted to marital property through a process known as commingling. For example, one spouse might receive deposit funds from an inheritance into a joint account or use them to purchase a shared asset, such as the marital home.
How is property divided?
Once the marital property is delineated, the next step is to determine how much of it each party deserves. Utah law lists many factors that must be evaluated, but judges can consider any relevant information to determine each party’s share. Some important factors include:
- The extent to which each party contribute to the acquisition of the property
- Uncompensated contributions made to the household or a family business
- Contributions one spouse made for the other’s education and career
- Wasteful spending by either party
Courts often find that stay-at-home spouses are entitled to a share of businesses, fringe benefits, investment portfolios, 401(k)s and retirement accounts accumulated by their ex. Property division is a complex process, especially for high net worth couples, which is why you need a knowledgeable Salt Lake City divorce lawyer protecting your rights.
How does a prenuptial agreement protect property?
An enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can protect separate property by clearly designating it as separate. Spouses can make stipulations about how property should be divided in the event of a divorce and set forth terms on alimony.
Consult an experienced attorney in Salt Lake City to discuss property division in a divorce
Attorney Victoria Cramer advocates on behalf of Utah spouses in property division matters and other aspects of the divorce process. To schedule a consultation at Ms. Cramer’s Salt Lake City office, please call 801-299-9999 or contact her office online.