Couples facing a divorce will have to undergo the difficult process of separating their finances. The longer you have stayed married, the more property and debts the two of you probably share. Some families already have marital agreements that declare how they will divide their property. Others have to make those decisions in the early stages of their divorce.
If you don’t feel like you can settle property division matters with your spouse, you may need to prepare for family court proceedings. Litigated property division matters force both of you to accept the outcome determined by a judge.
After reviewing your property and the circumstances of your marriage, a judge will decide what they think would be an equitable way to split up your assets between the two of you. Typically, only your marital property is subject to division in divorce litigation. What assets are potentially at risk?
Much of your property may be marital problem property
Once you marry, your income and your personal possessions belong to your spouse as well as to you. Even though one of you may earn more than the other or may play a direct role in acquiring certain assets, both spouses have an ownership interest in any property accumulated during the marriage.
Unless you have a marital agreement protecting certain assets or keeping your income separate, whatever you acquire or earn after your wedding is part of your marital estate. Income that you earned and property held only in your name are at risk of division just like assets that you hold jointly.
What might be separate property?
Some of your assets could be separate property that you won’t have to divide in a litigated divorce. What you earned and owned before your wedding will usually remain your separate property if you don’t commingle it with marital assets.
If you inherited anything prior to or during your marriage, your inheritance will likely also remain separate property. Gifts can also be separate property. Finally, any assets or income that you specifically protect with a marital agreement will be exempt from property division proceedings in a Utah divorce.
When you understand what comprises the pool of divisible property, you can better strategize for your divorce. Familiarizing yourself with Utah’s property division laws will help those preparing for divorce court.