When couples marry, they usually dream of a happy life together for 'as long as they both shall live.' Throughout the duration of the marriage, a couple will accumulate possessions with the idea of that happily-ever-after coming true.
Unfortunately, divorces happen. For couples who have accumulated high-value assets along the way, the division of these items can cause an incredible amount of animosity and tension.
Which marital assets must be divided?
In Alabama, any assets acquired during the couple's time together -from the date of marriage until the date of separation - are marital assets, and are subject to division. Although these assets may vary from situation to situation, generally speaking, the following items, among others, may be split during the divorce process:
- Rental properties
- Retirement accounts, including pension plans
- Stock options
- Closely-held business interests.
Alabama is an equitable distribution state
Although equitable distribution is used during the property division process in Alabama, this does not mean that marital property will be split directly down the middle. "Equitable" is a term used by the courts as they consider what's fair for each party based on a number of circumstances including the following:
- Length of the marriage
- Tax consequences of the distribution
- Standard of living established by the parties during the marriage
- Other sources of income for each party, such as medical, retirement and insurance benefits
- Marital misconduct
Which Assets Can be Excluded from Marital Property?
Generally speaking, someone seeking a divorce in Alabama who has inherited money during the marriage can claim the inheritance as separate property - provided it was not used to benefit both spouses during the marriage. Gifts may also fall under this category as long as they weren't used for the common benefit of both spouses during the marriage.
If you are facing a divorce, seek the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney at the law firm of Joseph Allan Shaw, P.C. A lawyer will help you understand your options as they relate to Alabama law so you are prepared when it is time to enter the courtroom.