Handling Property Division in Divorces and Separations
You need an attorney with experience and versatility
One of the most challenging aspects of any divorce case is the division of marital property. If you and your spouse have been living together for many years, you may own real estate, vehicles and other resources that need to be divided. Determining how to divide that property in a way that meets both parties' needs can be exceptionally difficult, especially if the divorcing spouses are not on good terms.
To help you navigate a complex property division case, you need a capable attorney. Attorney Elisa Recht Marlin is not only an experienced attorney focusing her practice on family law, but also a certified public accountant. Her combination of legal and financial knowledge will help you find the right solution as you move through your divorce.
We understand West Virginia's property distribution laws
Central to any discussion of property division is the definition of separate versus marital property. In West Virginia, any property that belonged to only one spouse before marriage is considered separate property, as is any gift or inheritance received by one spouse. Any property acquired or earned during the marriage is marital property, regardless of which spouse earned or acquired it. For instance, a vehicle that was purchased during the marriage is considered marital property even if it is registered and insured in only one spouse's name.
Under West Virginia law, the courts are required to divide marital property according to the principle of "equitable distribution." Note that "equitable" does not necessarily mean "equal." That is, the court is not required to simply divide all property in half, but rather to find a fair distribution.
If the two divorcing spouses agree to a fair and reasonable property division, the court will generally accept it. Otherwise, the court divides property based on the following four considerations:
- How much each party has contributed to the marital property by monetary contributions. That is, the spouse who earned and spent more money on marital property may be entitled to a greater share of the property.
- How much each party contributed to the property by non-monetary means. For instance, if one spouse increased the value of the marital home by personally completing renovations, that non-monetary contribution would be taken into account.
- How much each party expended his or her efforts during the marriage to increase the other party's earning ability or decrease his or her own earning ability. For example, one spouse may have devoted his or her time to caring for the couple's children in order to enable the other spouse to work longer hours and earn more.
- How much each party may have contributed to dissipating or depreciating the value of the marital property.
Note that in West Virginia, the courts do not consider either party's misconduct when dividing property. A spouse's extramarital affair, for instance, is grounds to file for divorce in the first place, but it does not affect that spouse's right to an equitable distribution of property. Only each party's economic contributions to the marriage are relevant to the question of property division.
That's why you need an attorney who understands the law, finance and your community. That's why you need Recht Law Offices. We'll help you carefully account for all of your property and advocate for you to receive your fair share.
Get started on your case today. Reach out to Recht Law at 1-800-487-8546 for your free consultation.