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Three things to know about property division in divorce

Property division is right up there with child custody when it comes to contentious divorce issues. Many people are afraid of losing valuable assets, or how they will adjust to a new lifestyle. Will you have to leave your home? What happens to your debt? These are important questions, and uncertainty about the future only adds to the stress of divorce.

Below we address three common things individuals facing divorce want to know about dividing property in a divorce.

What is marital property?

Marital property usually includes money, assets and other types of property earned or accumulated over the course of the marriage. For the most part, it does not matter whose name is on the title to something you acquire during your marriage - it could still be considered marital property. Assets owned before marriage are usually separate property but it can depend on how the asset was managed during the marriage. In addition, though usually separate, an inheritance or gift given to one spouse may need to be evaluated as part of the property division.

How does Alabama divide marital property?

Some states refer to marital property as "community property," which must be divided 50/50 between divorcing spouses. But, Alabama law directs the courts to apply the principle of "equitable division," meaning the division must be fair, but not necessarily 50/50. The courts will consider the needs of each party, as well as their contributions to the marriage, among other factors.

Are debts divided in a divorce?

Generally, yes. Debts you accumulate during the marriage fall under marital property. Mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans and, in some cases, student loan debt, are generally divided equitably between spouses during divorce. How this may affect you depends on your unique circumstances.

You can advocate for your future

Property division is a tough part of divorce, but it also presents an opportunity to pursue the future you want. Think carefully about your financial needs and objectives before and during the divorce process so that you know what you require to be okay after the divorce is finalized. Having a game plan in place can help alleviate the stress of uncertainty and allow you to better advocate for your needs.

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