With nearly 750,000 divorces in the United States annually, people should know how the Utah courts handle the division of assets in divorces. Deciding which spouse should take sole possession of which parts of the combined marital property can be a complicated and stressful process. Here is some helpful information about what to expect in the division of assets as part of a divorce in the state of Utah.
Who Decides How to Divide Assets During a Divorce?The division of assets during a divorce is primarily decided by the court. The court will aim to divide the assets in a fair and equitable manner, taking into account factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, and contributions made by each spouse to the marriage. In some cases, the couple may be able to negotiate a settlement outside of court, with the help of their lawyers or a mediator. However, if they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make the final decision on how to divide the assets.
How Are Assets Divided in a Utah Divorce?The division of assets during a divorce is primarily decided by the court. The court will aim to divide the assets in a fair and equitable manner, taking into account factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, and contributions made by each spouse to the marriage. In some cases, the couple may be able to negotiate a settlement outside of court, with the help of their lawyers or a mediator. However, if they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make the final decision on how to divide the assets. How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce in Utah?
There is no standard formula for determining which spouse will receive which assets in a divorce. Often it is necessary to work with an experienced Utah divorce lawyer and use the mediation resources available through the Utah Courts to divide marital assets in a mutually acceptable way.
Under Utah law, the assets must be divided fairly and equitably in a divorce. This does not necessarily mean that assets will simply be split 50/50. The court considers many factors in determining what an appropriate division of a couple’s assets is. Their individual assets at the start of the marriage, their past and current incomes, ages, health, child support, spousal support or alimony, marital debts, prenuptial agreements, and many other factors will be weighed in the decision.
The judge in a Utah court has considerable latitude in deciding what amounts to a fair division of assets in a divorce. If the parties can come to an agreement on how the marital property and debts should be divided, the judge can review their agreement and, if it is found to be fair, hand down an order making the asset division agreement enforceable.
An additional factor in the outcome of this part of your Utah divorce case is the amount of experience your divorce attorney has in property divisions. Your lawyer knows the correct interpretations of Utah statutes and applications of precedents established by the courts in previous cases. This specialized knowledge of property division practices in the courts can be critical to the process.
How are Assets Identified and Valuated?
In the Utah divorce process, you are required to declare all your current assets and assign an appropriate value to each. Your assets report must include those you own in partnership with other parties, assets held in trust, or companies. A total pool of assets has all the physical assets, financial assets, pensions, inheritances, gifts, and any other interests and liabilities of both parties.
Substantial credit may be awarded to the party who brought the asset into the marriage. In some cases, the other spouse may consider excluding certain assets from the combined lists.
What Process is Used for Dividing Assets in a Utah Divorce?
After both parties agree that all property and debts have been declared and that the asset pool is complete, the next step in the process is evaluating the individual spouses’ contributions to the assets. This evaluation is not limited to financial contributions. It can also include the parties’ respective contributions in home renovation, homemaking, parenting, and other ways of adding value.
Additional inclusions in the considerations of property division can include the ages and health status of each spouse, each person’s earning capacity, and their impact on the career development of the other. The length of the marriage is also considered. Adjustments are made as the court finds necessary to arrive at a just and equitable division of assets under Utah law.
Common Issues in Marital Asset Division
Parting with property in a divorce can be very difficult for people, and the court’s priority is to ensure the asset division is fair. Determining the appropriate way to divide some assets can be complicated. For example, dividing a house that both soon-to-be ex-spouse’s want offers very few options:
- Sell the house and split the proceeds from the sale.
- Have one party obtain an appraisal and take full ownership, and pay the other party whatever amount the judge finds to be his or her fair portion of the value of the house.
Other financial sticking points during marital asset divisions can include valuations and percentage distributions of the whole range of personal and business asset types, including:
- Cars, boats, and other personal property
- Checking and savings account balances
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance policies
- Jewelry, antiques, and other collectibles
- A spouse’s increase in earning potential due to academic degrees
- Financial interest in family businesses or professional practices
- Investment properties
- Pensions, IRAs, 401(k) accounts, and other retirement assets
- Trust funds, money market accounts, CDs, etc.
- Trademarks, copyrights, patents, or other intellectual property
What if My Spouse and I Disagree on the Asset Division?
Mediation can settle asset division in most divorce cases. Property division may seem too complicated to be figured out without a judge to resolve discrepancies and disputes. Your divorce lawyer will help simplify the process for you, fully protect all your rights, and help guide the mediation process to conclude with a fair and equitable division of assets.
How to Get Through Divorce and Property Division
Divorce is usually a very unsettling and emotional process. The best approach is to start by reviewing your case with an experienced divorce lawyer in Utah, to get the best available information about Utah State law regarding asset division in a divorce. Knowing your rights in your divorce case can often shorten the process and avoid a longer and more frustrating and potentially adversarial process.
Work with the best divorce attorney Utah has available to you, to ensure that all your rights are fully protected throughout the divorce and that you receive a fair property settlement to which you are legally entitled.
Prenuptial Agreements & Dividing Assets in a Divorce
Prenuptial agreements will be taken into consideration when dividing assets in a Utah divorce case. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines the distribution of assets and spousal support in the case of a divorce. It is a contract signed by both parties before marriage, and it can include provisions for the division of property, debts, and other financial matters. If a couple decides to divorce, the court will typically enforce the terms of the prenuptial agreement, unless it is found to be invalid or unfair. However, it is important to note that prenuptial agreements cannot override state laws regarding child custody or child support. Ultimately, the court will consider the terms of the prenuptial agreement along with other relevant factors when determining the distribution of assets in a divorce.
Can I Negotiate Changes to the Division of Assets After a Divorce?
Yes, it is possible to negotiate changes to the division of assets after a divorce has been finalized, but it is not always easy. In order to do so, both parties must agree to reopen the divorce settlement and make changes. This may involve going back to court and presenting the proposed changes to the judge for approval.
There are several reasons why parties may wish to negotiate changes to the division of assets after a divorce has been finalized. For example, if there has been a significant change in financial circumstances, such as one party losing their job or experiencing a major medical expense, it may be necessary to revisit the division of assets to ensure that it is fair to both parties.
If both parties are willing to negotiate changes, it is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and help you to achieve a fair and equitable result. It is also important to keep in mind that reopening a divorce settlement can be a time-consuming and expensive process, so it is important to carefully consider your options before deciding to pursue changes.
Contact the Top Divorce Attorney in Salt Lake City When You Need Help with the Division of Assets in Utah
If you have concerns about divorce and property, attorney David Pedrazas has helped people throughout Utah through the challenges of divorce for the past 20 years. He is dedicated to helping every client make the best-informed choices possible, to move beyond divorce to a happier future. David Pedrazas has been recognized as one of Salt Lake City’s best divorce attorneys by the American Institute of Family Law, the National Academy of Family Law Association, and the American Academy of Trial Attorneys.