Dividing marital property can be one of the most difficult parts of a divorce, not only because you and your spouse may both have strong personal feelings about many of your possessions, but also because you each need sufficient assets to support yourself after the divorce. As you prepare for your divorce, you should take note of some of the assets and properties that often cause conflict so that you can make a plan to address each one.
How Is Property Divided in a Wisconsin Divorce?
In Wisconsin, divorcing couples are required to divide all marital property, which generally includes anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage except in the case of a gift, inheritance, or benefit related to someone else’s death. Wisconsin also has a baseline requirement that marital property be divided equally between both spouses, meaning a 50/50 split, although this can sometimes be adjusted based on factors including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, and each spouse’s earning capacity and financial needs.
Certain Properties Can Be Contentious
While you may experience conflict regarding any marital property, the following are some of the most contentious:
- The marital home: You may face a difficult decision regarding which spouse will continue to own and live in the marital home after your divorce. The court may consider whether it is in the best interests of your children for the parent with more physical placement time to keep the home, but this may mean that the parent gives up a greater share of other assets.
- Retirement accounts: Retirement savings and benefits, even those listed in one spouse’s name and funded by that spouse’s employer, are typically considered marital property that must be divided. You should consult an attorney and possibly a financial professional to ensure you can divide accounts such as 401(k)s or IRA and pension benefits while minimizing losses, and you may need to adjust your retirement goals and plans as necessary.
- Debts: Debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage, including mortgages, car loans, student loans, and credit card debt, can all be considered in the division of marital property, which means you may be left partially responsible for the debt of your spouse. Consider strategies to reduce marital debt before your divorce, and ensure that your name is removed from any debts that you are not assigned during the division of property.
Keep in mind that leaving the division of property up to the court can lead to results that are undesirable for both you and your spouse. Though reaching an agreement may be difficult, you can retain greater control of the outcome if you and your spouse are able to cooperate.
Contact a Milwaukee Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions about the division of property, or if you need legal advice and representation during the divorce process, the attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help. Contact an experienced Waukesha County family law attorney today at 414-271-1440 to request a free consultation.