Divorce has a number of peculiarities and procedures through which each couple, wishing to end the marriage, must pass. Division of property is an integral part of any dissolution of a marriage. Indiana is a state with fair division, although this does not mean that it will be equal. It can be said that the division of property is a rather complicated process, especially if the spouses cannot agree, in this case the judge will take all the decisions. In order to understand how the decision will be made, it is necessary to understand in more detail the features of the property division.
Marital and Separate property
The first step that should be done is to divide the entire property into 2 main types: marital or common and separate. Marital property includes everything that the couple have acquired since the marriage, including wedding gifts. Separate property is all that each spouse owned before marriage. Although if being married any spouse received gifts or inheritance, it is also considered as a separate property. At first glance it would seem everything is simple, but in practice it is not. Quite often a separate property can become common. For example, the wife owned the family house before marriage and after the wedding the husband regularly invested his money and strength to maintain this house. In this case the house may become common property if the judge considers this to be fair. The longer the marriage lasted the harder it is to understand what is a separate property and what is marital.
In Indiana there is a presumption that all property should be divided 50/50, if the spouses do not agree with this the property will be divide in accordance with what is fair. Nevertheless the decision is always made by the judge, depending on the circumstances of the marriage, therefore not always marital property is divided in half.
Before making a decision the judge must consider a number of factors in order to understand what is fair. These factors include the following:
- The contribution of each spouse in the acquisition and maintenance of property.
- Financial resources and capabilities of each spouse.
- If any spouse has a custody over minor children and whether this spouse needs a dwelling.
- How and for what purposes the property was used.
- Tax implications for spouses after separation.
Unlike many states with a fair distribution of property, in Indiana the duration of the marriage does not affect the separation process. Although if the marriage was short the court may deviate from the presumption of equal separation and allow the spouses to distribute the property as fairly as possible.
In order for the division to be truly fair the court will assign a value to each property. Based on numbers division will be much easier. The value of each property is calculated on the basis of the consent of the spouses. Thus, if each partner agrees with the declared value of the house the court will take it as the primary one. If at least one spouse does not agree, then various specialists will be involved in determining the value, including appraisers and accountants. Valuation of property with the help of experts increases the cost of divorce.
Dividing the Property
Everything has to be divided, including movable and immovable property, bank savings, any pension benefits and debts. Some spouses prefer to first sell the entire property, get out of debts and then divide the remaining money. If the couple has too many disagreements and cannot agree all decisions will be made by the judge and it will not always satisfy the desires of the spouses.
It is also worth noting that spouses can share property without the participation of a judge. If both agree on the same conditions and are ready to sign a settlement agreement, the judge will simply approve it, as a result of which the spouses will avoid lengthy court’s sessions. If a few disagreements are still present and the question is not acute the spouses may seek the help of intermediaries to find a compromise.