Salt Lake City Attorneys Help Divorcing Utahns Resolve Division of Marital Property Matters
“Equitable” distribution of marital property doesn’t necessarily mean “equal”
Utah is an “equitable division” state. This simply means that in a divorce, all marital property must be distributed equitably between the two spouses, but equitable does not equal a fifty-fifty split in every case. At Huntsman | Lofgran, our legal team vigilantly guards your interests as the court considers which assets and debts are marital and who gets how much of what.
Yes, debts too
You read correctly: Debts are also considered part of the marital property. Generally, family debts incurred during the marriage are the responsibility of both spouses, and the court allocates that responsibility along with any assets it awards either party.
Just what constitutes marital property then? Generally, debt, property and other assets you bring with you prior to the marriage remain yours even when you’re divorcing your spouse. What gets divided are the property, assets and debts brought in during the marriage, with the exception of any assets received as a gift or inheritance — those remain the property of the spouse who received them.
How the court decides what’s equitable
The court takes many factors into consideration when determining who gets what, including:
- Who gets the house? If there are children involved, the court may take into account their emotional needs and their desire to stay in the home. The court may decide it is in the children’s best interests that the home be kept until such time as the youngest child graduates from high school or turns age 18, whichever is later, at which point the custodial parent may either buy the other spouse out or sell the home and divide the proceeds.
- Who gets the debts? While a husband is not responsible for his wife’s debt and a wife is not responsible for her husband’s debt, both spouses are responsible for debts created for a family purpose. If your spouse racks up a bunch of credit card debt not related to family expenses, you may not be liable for that debt in a divorce. However if your spouse racks up family-related expenses, you may be liable for those debts.
- Who gets the retirement money? The general rule in Utah is that any amount paid into a retirement or pension plan by either party during the marriage is considered marital property and may be equitably divided by the court. A spouse may be awarded a share of the other spouse’s pension or other retirement benefits even when the benefits are not going to be collected until some future date. If the spouses share in each other’s retirement or pension plan, the court issues a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which instructs retirement plan administrators on how much of the benefits are to be paid to each spouse, along with when such benefits can be paid and how they should be paid.
- Who gets the life insurance? There are no statutes in Utah defining the use of life insurance in domestic disputes. However, the court can order that current policies be maintained, or new policies be purchased. The court can also stipulate the beneficiary of the policy.
Assets and debt are self-reported, and the wealthier you are, the likely your spouse may “inadvertently” omit certain marital assets from the accounting. Our attorneys may be able to help you prove your spouse controls marital assets that have not been reported and obtain a subpoena to substantiate this.
Contact a firm that represents your division of property rights and can help unveil your spouse’s hidden assets
Whether you need to prove hidden assets exist or you simply want to ensure that the court recognizes your arguments regarding your contributions to the household, retaining Huntsman | Lofgran in Salt Lake City to represent you is a smart investment. Call us at 801.838.8900 or contact us online today. We provide compassionate and objective counsel, and take your rights and best interests to heart.