The divorce process will address several key issues in order for the marriage to dissolve and the parties start a new chapter in their lives. One of the issues central to divorce is division of property. It can also be one of the more contentious subjects to broach. While some couples are able to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement for property division that a judge will approve, many others are unable to do so and this means that the court will decide how property is divided for them. Each state has laws in place to address how property will be divided in a divorce. In Arkansas, courts follow an equitable distribution model regarding property division. This means that the property will not necessarily be divided equally, but what the court sees as fair in light of the circumstances.
Arkansas as an Equitable Distribution State
As an equitable distribution state, Arkansas courts attempt to fairly divide marital property in a divorce. Fairly may be an equal 50-50 split, but this is not always the case. The first step a court takes in dividing property in a divorce is to determine which property is marital and which property is separate. In most cases, marital property will include those assets and debts either spouse acquired during the marriage. There are exceptions to this rule. Property will generally be considered separate if a spouse owned it prior to marriage. If the property was acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, it will also be considered separate. Other examples of property acquired during the marriage that will still be considered separate include:
- Things purchased with separate property
- Interest and earnings on separate property
- Value increases on separate property
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Personal injury claim proceeds
In some cases, the commingling of assets can transform what would otherwise be considered separate property into marital property.
Once property has been categorized as separate or marital, the marital property will be subject to equitable division by the court. In order to help ensure that the division is equitable, or fair, the court will consider several factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The occupation and income level of each spouse
- The earning capacity and potential of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions to acquiring and maintaining marital property
- The federal income tax consequences of the property division
These are the kinds of considerations the court will take into account in an attempt at fairly dividing the marital assets and debts.
Arkansas Divorce Attorney
Division of the marital property will have a substantial impact on your financial future and well-being. Get an advocate by your side that you trust. The Law Offices of Bryce Cook are committed to the best interests of our clients. If you are considering divorce, talk to us about your options going forward. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.