Property division in Arkansas, also known as equitable division, is the division of property rights and responsibilities between divorcing spouses. The divorcing parties may arrive at an agreement on their own or seek a court order from a judge. Disputes regarding property division may be also solved with the help and guidance of an Arkansas family law attorney.
Marital vs. Separate Assets: What’s the Difference?
The law treats property differently according to whether it was acquired before or after marriage. Understanding the differences between your assets will help you know what to anticipate as you go through divorce proceedings.
The two main types of properties that divorcing couples must consider are:
- Marital assets. Marital assets are the property, including debts, that you and your spouse acquired from your marriage date until the present. Under Arkansas equitable division laws, both spouses must receive a fair share of marital assets upon divorce.
- Separate assets. Separate assets are the property, including debts, that each spouse acquired before the marriage. In general, a judge will not divide separate assets between the spouses unless the division of marital assets is deemed unfair.
There is a third type of asset known as divisible assets. This property type is a designation created for equitable division purposes and applies to assets and debts acquired after separation, but before the divorce is finalized. Any property received as a divisible asset will be considered by a judge or between the parties.
What Kinds of Assets & Liabilities Are Divided in a Divorce?
Regardless of the asset category, certain types of property—including debts—will be included in your divorce. You will receive your share of the marital estate based on these and other factors.
The most common types of marital and separate assets included in a divorce include:
- Residential and vacation homes
- Secured and unsecured debts
- Furniture, appliances, and electronics
- Artwork, jewelry, and other valuables
- Civil lawsuit awards
- Motor vehicles, including cars, planes, and boats
- Retirement and pension accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Privately-owned businesses
For some couples, identifying every asset for valuation and division can be challenging—mainly when one spouse is less forthright about the details. However, a family law attorney can help in this situation through a process called discovery. During discovery, your lawyer can request and review documentation from your ex to determine if other assets exist. If you find previously unknown assets, you can then include them in the judge’s decision-making process.
What Do Courts Consider When Dividing Marital & Separate Property?
While marital and separate property division laws vary by state, Arkansas requires assets to be divided according to equitable division rules. However, a judge can divide property proportionate to what he or she believes is fair.
Factors that the judge may consider are:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s occupation and income
- Minor-aged children’s needs, if any are involved
- Each spouse’s contributions and liabilities to the property
- Federal income tax implications for acquiring divided property
- Any other factors as applicable to the divorce
Some divorcing couples can come to a mutual agreement on how to divide what they possess, while others may require a divorce lawyer to negotiate a decision. If you cannot resolve property division issues out of court, the decision will go before a judge or arbiter.
Does a Prenuptial Agreement Influence Property Division?
A prenuptial agreement is a legally-binding document that spouses enter before getting married. Prenups generally contain property division provisions that may take precedence over current laws.
For example, the provisions outlined in a prenup may establish what property was separate before the marriage and how finances will be handled upon divorce. This is how a prenuptial agreement can prevent courts from interfering with decisions on property division.
Keep in mind, however, that Arkansas has specific laws defining the enforceability of a prenup. It’s important to have a family law attorney review your prenup to decide if it will have standing in court.
How Do You Enforce a Property Division Court Order in Arkansas?
When you receive a divorce decree, a judge will also issue a property division order that describes how the divorced spouses must divide the property. It is a binding condition that both parties must follow. If either spouse fails to comply with the property division order, they can be charged formally with contempt of court, a criminal action that carries penalties and other consequences. If you have any issues with your property division order, speak with a family law attorney in Arkansas to discuss your legal options.
How Divorce Attorneys Can Help You Handle Property Division Issues
Divorce is a stressful time for both individuals, especially when discussing what you’re getting or giving up. The facts and circumstances of your assets, liabilities, and needs will affect the outcome of the property division.
Hiring a divorce attorney ensures that your rights are protected and that you will not give up more than your equitable share of marital assets. An experienced divorce lawyer will also provide you with insight and guidance as questions arise throughout the process, so you will always have a licensed legal professional looking out for your interests when you’re seeking a fair outcome for your divorce.
Call Milligan Law Offices for Legal Help & Assistance
Find out how a divorce attorney at Milligan Law Offices will protect your rights while helping you meet your family’s goals. Schedule an initial consultation now with our firm by completing the form at the top of this page or calling 479-783-2213.