Along with custodial arrangements, the division of finances and property is often a contentious topic during divorce. Before you speak with your spouse about dividing property, do your homework.
Is Iowa a Community Property State?
While some states recognize the concept of “community property,” which means that all marital property is equally owned by both spouses and divided accordingly in a divorce, the state of Iowa does not follow community property laws.
Instead, Iowa laws decree that property is divided equitably. This does not mean an equal split, but a split that is considered fair. Property acquired during the marriage would be considered marital property, unless one spouse was the sole owner before the marriage, or the assets were a gift or an inheritance.
During divorce you can make decisions with your spouse to divide assets and liabilities, or you can request the court make a ruling for you. Generally, agreements arrived at between spouses are a better fit for each party than those handed down by a court that has little knowledge of your family and financial situation.
Knowledge of your property and debts is essential before negotiating with a spouse. Consider these tips:
- Assets: Make an accounting of all property and possessions obtained during your marriage. There may be real property, automobiles, investment, retirement and other accounts, a business or professional practice or other valuables.
- Debt: Establish separate banking and credit accounts before closing all joint savings, checking and credit accounts. Strategies to deal with debt acquired by the marital estate include an agreement by one party to assume debt in exchange for a greater portion of marital property, sale of marital property to pay off debt or division of debt among parties.
- Hidden assets: If your separation and divorce proceeding is not amicable or you suspect your partner may have siphoned assets out of the marital estate, either before or during the divorce process, it may be important to obtain forensic help locating wealth hidden in solely owned bank accounts, properties or even as virtual coinage like Bitcoin.
Financial decisions made during divorce directly impact your future. When deciding who gets what property, seek experienced legal counsel in Des Moines.