How will our property and debts be divided?
The “marital estate” will be divided by a process referred to as “equitable division.”
The marital estate generally consists of all property, assets, and funds of any description that were acquired by the parties during the marriage (i.e., from the wedding date until the date of filing a case with the Family Court). There can be exceptions to to this rule, particularly if there is a pre-nuptial agreement, if either spouse receives a gift or inheritance, or if either spouse receives certain government assistance or benefits. In addition, some non-marital property can become marital property over the course of time. You will certainly wish to discuss this topic further with your attorney.
In most cases, marital property will be divided between the parties on a 50/50 basis. There are a number of factors that may affect the percentage split, such as marital fault, the relative efforts of the parties in contributing to the marital estate, and the relative sizes of each parties’ non-marital estates; this list is not intended to be exhaustive, and every case is different. You should consult with one of our Charleston divorce lawyers on this topic if you have specific questions in this regard.
What are the most common items of marital property divided by the Family Court?
The largest portion of marital estates are typically the marital home and retirement/pension accounts. Businesses started by either party during the marriage are also subject to equitable division, and can be a complicating factor in the process. Consumer debts such as credit cards are also commonly part of the marital estate, assuming that they were used for “marital purposes” (as opposed to one party running up credit cards on a trip to Las Vegas). Student loans may or not be included, often depending on whether or not loan overages were employed to pay family bills while one spouse was in school.