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What factors will a judge consider in property division?

Dividing assets and property fairly through divorce proceedings is simplest when the spouses who are separating can decide between themselves how the division will be accomplished. However, often, in the course of a divorce, it becomes necessary for a court to dictate and enforce how property and assets are divided. If this becomes a necessary component of your divorce, it will be helpful to know the factors a judge will consider as he or she reviews your case.

A judge will first evaluate the respective contributions of each spouse to the acquisition of marital property. This does not preclude the contributions of stay-at-home spouses, however. Judges do consider the intrinsic value of spouses who stayed at home and give weight to their needs as well. This is especially true in the case of couples with children, where a spouse stayed at home to not only maintain household affairs, but also to raise children. The judge will also give special consideration to each spouse's post-divorce circumstances, and may give extra weight to the need of the primary custody parent to remain in the marital home with the children.

Apart from children-related issues, a judge will also take into consideration the length of a marriage. For instance, if a person has been a homemaker for 20 years, even though the marriage did not yield any children, a judge will be more inclined to increase his or her share of marital property over that of the same person who was only married for a couple years. The value of the marital property at stake will also be considered. If a couple does not have a great deal to be divided, it is unlikely a court will need to become involved. However, if there are significant assets held in the marriage and the spouses did not choose to create a prenuptial agreement, a judge is more likely to have to direct some of the asset division.

Asset division can be quite contentious in any circumstance. The assistance of an experienced attorney can help divorcing couples reach amicable resolutions to their asset division conflict before a court needs to be involved.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Kentucky Marital Property Laws," accessed July 26, 2016

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