No matter what kind of marriage you may have, or how long it has survived, a divorce will mean determining a fair division of assets that must be approved by a court before the relationship can be legally dissolved. Kentucky, like most states in the union, operates on the “equitable division” system, meaning that assets and liabilities that are deemed to be marital property are to be divided “fairly” rather than “equally.”
Practically speaking, this can mean that the higher earner of the two spouses is often awarded a larger portion of marital assets and liabilities because that person is considered the greater contributor to the marital assets as a whole.
If you are facing the prospect of dividing a significant number of marital assets, then you must know up front that it may be a lengthy and complex negotiation process. First, it must be determined which assets and liabilities are going to be considered marital property in your case.
Certain kinds of property are exempt from equitable division, such as any property that one spouse owned prior to the marriage, or property that was acquired through inheritance or as a personal gift to one spouse or the other. Property that has been previously assigned ownership in a prenuptial agreement is also exempt.
This still leaves the vast majority of property and liabilities acquired during a marriage to be divided. Some of the most common areas that can prove difficult to reach agreement on are investments and retirement assets. Likewise, real estate holdings can prove to be a complex area of negotiation, because the valuation of a piece of real estate is about so much more than its market value. Owning real estate can present ongoing income and tax obligations that must be calculated and weighed accordingly.
As you can see, dividing marital assets is no simple matter. If you are approaching a divorce, then there is a good chance you may be in for a difficult season of life as you pick apart your belongings just to legally become unbound from spouse. It is vital to build an experienced legal counsel team around you who can assist you in the negotiation of these complex issues and help ensure that your rights remain protected as you venture into a new season and a fresh start.
Source: FindLaw, “Checklist: Dividing Marital Property,” accessed Dec. 22, 2016