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Misunderstandings about property division

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2023 | Property Division |

The Code of Alabama provides 12 grounds for divorce in the state, but only one is allowable for an uncontested divorce. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, couples must always figure out how to divide their assets and debts.

Unfortunately, misconceptions and myths surround property division, which can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Myth #1: There is an equal split of property

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about property division is the belief that there is an equal division of all assets and debts. While a fair distribution is the goal, this does not necessarily mean an exact 50/50 split. Courts consider various factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contribution and their respective needs. The division may not always be equal, but it aims to be equitable.

Myth #2: Hiding assets is a good way to protect them

Some individuals think that they can protect their assets by hiding them from their spouse during divorce proceedings. This is a risky and illegal strategy. Courts employ forensic accountants and other professionals to uncover hidden assets. Attempting to conceal property can have severe consequences, including financial penalties and damage to your credibility in court.

Myth #3: An inheritance or gift belongs only to one spouse

Many people believe that inheritances and gifts are always exempt from the division of marital property. In reality, this can vary depending on the circumstances. If, for example, a spouse co-mingles an inheritance with marital assets or uses it for the benefit of the marriage, it may become subject to division.

Myth #4: Assets go to whoever’s name they are in

Married couples often think that assets held solely in their name are not subject to division. However, the title of an asset does not automatically determine ownership in divorce cases. Courts consider factors such as the source of funds and contributions made during the marriage. If marital funds helped acquire or maintain the asset, it may be marital property.

Myth #5: Debts belong to who created them

The individual whose name is on the loan or credit account does not have sole ownership over a debt made during the marriage. Debts are joint marital obligations, and the division is part of the overall property division process.

Understanding the realities of property division in divorce helps with making informed decisions and managing expectations. Divorces are often challenging, but dispelling these myths can help couples navigate this process more smoothly and with a clearer perspective.