TJC ESQ is now part of Burns & Levinson


| Mar 28, 2016 | Asset Division, Divorce, FAQ

Divorce courts in Rhode Island rely on a system of equitable distribution when a couple is ending their marriage. Equitable might sound pretty good phonetically but it can actually spell trouble for you if you are not prepared to part ways with some of your prized possessions. Equitable means “fair” not necessarily “equal”, and the court is going to decide what is and what isn’t fair. You may firmly believe that your ex-spouse doesn’t deserve the family automobile but unless you can convince the court otherwise, it could be theirs all the same.

Electronic Discovery Methods in Divorce

To create a strong argument as to why you should keep or receive certain pieces of marital property in your divorce, you will need to consider all your options. In today’s digital age of technology, this means using electronic discovery methods whenever possible. Emails, financial records, social media posts, photographs, and more can all be powerful pieces of evidence when used correctly in your argument. Did you find a post about your ex seeing another person before you finalized your divorce, for example? Gather up the e-evidence properly and it could influence the court to grant you a bigger, or more equitable, sum of the assets being divided.

Marital Property Compared to Separate Property

What is going to get divided during property division processes anyway? In Rhode Island, allmarital property is subject to asset division, and marital property is anything that was acquired, earned, or improved during the course of your marriage, as well as anything that was used to benefit the two of you. Imagine that your spouse was the sole owner of a home before you married and through your deliberate efforts during the marriage, the home’s value went up, such as if you successfully added another room or wing. The court could define that as marital property and you would have a fair say to some of it. Similar considerations come into play in a divorce involving business dissolution Rhode Island.

Separate property, or what you owned prior to the marriage and never shared, will not be divided in a divorce. In the big picture, truly separate property is hard to find, for most people end up sharing their own property with their spouse, or at least use it to benefit them. Rhode Island courts are even permitted to put up items that are objectively separate for property division in certain circumstances; this is not common but can come up in extreme cases, such as if domestic violence spurred the divorce.

Don’t Forget Debts and Alimony

Most people think about tangible pieces of property or cash collections when they think about property division. But there is one thing that you probably don’t want to split, but may be forced to: debt. Any debts that you accrued together as a married couple will be divided accordingly. You may be able to be assigned less debt if you can persuade the court that you were more financially responsible than your ex.

Spousal support will also not be established until all property division agreements come to an end. If your ex has requested a large sum of alimony but also received the lion’s share of your marital property, you should be able to expect to pay less alimony, if any at all.

If you have additional questions about property division in Rhode Island, be sure to call 401-400-4254 to contact TJC • ESQ. Our Providence divorce attorneys can guide you through this careful process from start to finish, all the while defending your best interests and your hard-earned assets. Initial consultations are free.


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