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Money, Marriage, and Divorce: Answering Your 3 Top Questions on the Division of Assets

There are a few questions we often hear from our first-time divorce clients. They usually fall into one of two categories: child custody and the division of marital property and assets. In this blog, our goal is to help you understand the latter, the basic guidelines surrounding the division of marital assets in Rhode Island.

If this is your first marriage, there’s a good chance that you decided a prenuptial agreement wasn’t necessary. For most people, marriage symbolizes the beginning of a beautiful future together. Often, it seems completely counterintuitive to consider what could happen if things go wrong during the bliss of planning for your wedding. So, while we always recommend a prenuptial agreement, many couples opt to tie the knot without one.

The process for dividing marital property and assets varies by state. Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, meaning the assets are divided equitably between the parties.  In this article, we’ll examine what that means for you in terms of your marital estate. If you have specific questions regarding your divorce, contact us today.

  1. Are assets divided 50/50 in a Rhode Island divorce?

No. In a divorce, the assets, property, and debts you have accrued during your marriage are considered part of your marital estate. Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, meaning your marital estate is divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50.

  1. What factors does the Rhode Island family court use to determine who gets what?

The factors influencing equitable distribution include but aren’t limited to:

  • How long you’ve been married
  • The conduct of you and your spouse during the marriage
  • How much you and your spouse contributed to the marriage, be it in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of financial property, assets, and debts
  • If either spouse took on the role of homemaker
  • Age and health of each person
  • Your income, occupation, and ability to get or keep employment
  • The opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training, licensure, business or increased earning power of the other
  • Whether or not you and your spouse need to stay in your marital residence, often influenced by what’s best for your children
  • Any other factors that contributed to your current financial situation

Although Rhode Island is a no-fault divorce state, issues such as infidelity, domestic violence, and substance abuse might be used during your divorce to impact a court’s decision on how to divide assets equitably.

  1. If my spouse and I agree on how we want to split our assets and liabilities, are we still subject to equitable distribution laws?

If you and your soon-to-be-ex are in agreement about how you want to divvy up your assets, the Rhode Island family court will not force you to comply with equitable distribution guidelines.

If you and your spouse agree on most, but not all, aspects of dividing your marital estate, the court will use equitable distribution to help determine how that portion gets divided.

Even if you and your spouse agree on how to divide property and assets, you should always consult a lawyer to review your plan before presenting it to the court. Given the number of issues involved and the potential implications to your financial future, dividing your marital estate is one of the most important issues you’ll work through in your divorce.

Next Steps

At Kirshenbaum Law Associates, we have a reputation for being tough trial attorneys and working hard to ensure our clients get the best settlement possible.

A small sample of our results include:

  • Establishing the value of a sole medical practitioner’s office, with the help of a nationally recognized valuation expert, that resulted in an overwhelming alimony award for our client.
  • Exposing our client’s spouse at trial during his attempt to present falsified tax returns.
  • Discovering assets in a southern state that resulted in our client getting $200k in unpaid alimony.

While we can’t guarantee specific results, we can assure you that our reputation, professional experience, and unrivaled track record of success, set us apart from other Rhode Island law firms.

For more information on how we can help you, contact Kirshenbaum Law Associates at 401-467-5300.