Disentangling two lives can be quite a task. Married couples can spend years or decades accumulating joint property that then must be divided during a divorce. The idea of dealing with property division might even be enough to make you delay the decision to end your marriage. However, the property division process does not have to be as daunting as it seems.
New Hampshire is an equitable distribution state. This means that divorcing couples do not have to divide their marriage assets equally. Instead, you will focus on dividing things fairly.
Identify separate property
Not everything is up for division just because you are going through a divorce. You may have several assets that are your own separate property, which you will keep. Examples of separate property include:
- Assets you owned before getting married
- Property you acquired after separating
Marital property – also called community property – are assets acquired during marriage that belong to both you and your soon-to-be ex. Income and retirement savings are generally considered marital property. Assets that were initially separate property such as inheritances may also be considered marital property if they were deposited into joint accounts or otherwise used to the benefit of both you and your spouse (such as to remodel the marital home or purchase a new car that is titled in both of your names).
Get it out in the open
It can be tempting to keep so-called “secret” assets to yourself. For example, maybe you maintained a personal bank account during your marriage, into which you deposited some of your paycheck or gifts. While you might think keeping this information to yourself is not that big of a deal, chances are that someone will find out about it during your divorce.
You should also be aware that your ex might try to hide assets. Unfortunately, this is not all that uncommon and can seriously impact the outcome of your divorce. After all, you cannot fairly divide marital property if both of you do not make every effort to make sure that all the relevant information is on the table.
Identify your priorities
Depending on the length of your marriage and how many assets you accumulated over the years, you may have your fair share of items to wade through. Fighting over every asset is not in your best interests, and unnecessary conflict can make the process that much more difficult. Identifying which assets are most important to you will help you prioritize during property division.
Although property division is an important part of the divorce process, it is just one of several issues you will need to address. Depending on your situation, you might also have to address matters such as alimony/spousal support, child support and custody agreements. Navigating through these different processes can be confusing, but taking the time to learn more about New Hampshire family law beforehand may be helpful.