When couples go through a divorce, they will need to divide their assets and property. The way property is divided can vary from state to state. If you are going through a divorce, you will need to understand your state’s laws and how they will affect your divorce. There are two methods of division: equitable distribution and community property. Some states observe community property, but most states follow equitable distribution.
Community Property: All property and assets acquired by the couple during the marriage is considered community property, and is owned equally by both spouses, regardless of who earned or purchased it. This also applies to debts, and the couple must evenly split debts upon divorce. Community property is observed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Equitable Distribution: Property acquired during the marriage is owned by the spouse who earned it. Property will be divided in a fair and equitable manner by the court. Different factors affect what is equitable, including income contributions, homemaking or child raising contributions, or potential earning power. Most states, including Rhode Island, observe equitable distribution.
Property Division in Rhode Island Divorces
Since Rhode Island is an equitable division state, property will be fairly assigned to each party by the court. What is considered fair is based on each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, such as income, assets, and labor contributions. Judges in Rhode Island have a considerable amount of discretion to divide property.
To divide property, a judge will first determine what constitutes marital property. Marital property is property or assets gained during the course of the marriage, including stocks, real estate, vehicles, retirement benefits, business value appreciation, and more. All such property must be divided.
After this has been determined, the judge will then weigh the factors laid out in Rhode Island General Laws statute 15-5-16.1, which include:
- The length of the marriage
- The conduct of both spouses during the marriage
- The contribution of each to acquire, preserve, and appreciate the values of their estates
- Homemaker contributions
- Health and age of each spouse
- Income of both parties
- Occupation and employability of each spouse
- Opportunity for acquisition of capital assets and income
- Contributions to education, training, licensure, business, or increased earning power of the other spouse
- The need to remain in the home for the best interests of any children the couple have
- Either party’s wasteful dissipation of marital assets
- Any other factor the court finds relevant
Finally, the marital estate will be divided by the judge, according to the above factors. Debt will also be divided between the divorcing spouses. Typically, debt will be divided between couples, but if the debt is due to dissipation of assets or other poor choices made by your spouse.
Divorces can be difficult, but finding help doesn’t have to be. Our Rhode Island divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce case, and can advocate for you during property division. Our firm has over 30 years of experience in divorce law, and we can handle your complex divorce. Contact TJC • ESQ today for more information.