Splitting marital property is one of the most complex issues couples must confront when they seek a divorce. Kansas law requires couples to divide their property equitably, not evenly, and deciding what is equitable can be challenging.
Working with a seasoned divorce attorney with experience negotiating property settlements arising from divorce could help save you time and money. They could explain the law’s requirements and help you reach a fair and workable agreement.
It is always preferable that spouses reach a property settlement through negotiation. However, when that is impossible, a Lawrence property division lawyer could ensure the judge considers factors that favor your goals in the divorce.
Process for Dividing Marital Property
A divorce filing begins the property division process. Everything either party owns, separately or with their spouse, becomes marital property at the time of filing.
However, property someone brought into the marriage and treated as separate during the marriage is separate property, and their spouse has no claim on it. Anything a spouse inherited and did not treat as a joint asset is separate property, as are gifts received by only one spouse, including gifts from one spouse to another. Anything a valid prenuptial agreement defines as separate property will not be subject to distribution in a divorce.
Divorce requires the spouses to catalog and value their marital property. An experienced Lawrence property division attorney has access to appraisers, business valuation experts, and others who can assist with asset valuation. Once both sides agree on the value of their marital property, negotiations to achieve a fair division can begin.
Factors Courts Consider When Determining Equitability
When spouses negotiate a property settlement, they can decide what is fair in their specific circumstances and allow each spouse to retain the property that has the most value for them. For example, a spouse who owns a business might keep that business and give other property of similar value to the other spouse.
Understanding how a judge will determine an equitable property split if the spouses cannot reach an agreement can be helpful. Kansas Statutes § 23-2802 requires judges to consider the following:
- Each spouse’s age
- Tax implications of marital property division
- How the couple acquired the marital property
- The value of each spouse’s separate property
- Whether either spouse will receive spousal support
- Childcare responsibilities, if the couple has children
- Each spouse’s education, work experience, and capacity to earn a living
- Resources the residential parent may require to provide a home for the children
Fault for the marriage’s failure is usually not a factor in property division decisions.
A divorcing couple in Lawrence could try to negotiate a property settlement by themselves or through their respective attorneys. Mediation is often helpful if the couple reaches an impasse.
Property Division Agreements Are Final
If the couple agrees on property division, they formalize their agreement in writing and submit it to the court for approval. Courts usually approve an arrangement the couple agrees to unless it is clearly unfair to one party. When issuing the divorce decree, the judge will issue a court order explaining how the couple’s marital property should be divided, using the parties’ agreement or the judge’s arrangement if the parties do not agree.
When divorce courts issue orders regarding child support or custody, either party could seek to modify the order in the future, while property division orders are more difficult to change.
The court usually will not consider modifying a property division if more than a year has passed since the judge issued the final divorce decree. However, in rare instances when a spouse can show fraud or previously unknown information that affects property distribution, the court might reconsider a property division order. A well-practiced lawyer in Lawrence could advise a spouse whether seeking modification of a property division order is a viable strategy in a particular case.
Work With a Lawrence Property Division Attorney to Achieve Fair Asset Distribution in Your Divorce
Splitting up your property can be complicated, particularly if you or your spouse own real estate or a business or have pension plans and retirement accounts. Ensuring the division is fair under the circumstances requires knowledge and skill.
A Lawrence property division attorney understands the law and the issues that arise in these divorce negotiations. With their help, you could leave your marriage well-positioned to move forward with your life. Schedule an initial consultation today.