If you’re going through a divorce and need assistance dividing your property with your spouse, contact Arenson Law Group, PC immediately. Our legal team has over three decades of experience handling family law matters. We understand the stress you face as you navigate unfamiliar territory and attempt to start a new chapter in your life. Divorce is one of the most challenging experiences for a person to go through. We will make this transition as smooth and easy as possible so you can move forward having reached your legal goals.
Cedar Rapids has a 9% divorce rate, according to a local survey, and has the 35th highest divorce rate in Iowa. Determining who gets to keep the home and how to split assets fairly among each party can be a challenge. Often, people going through a divorce have an idea of what they deserve and aren’t willing to give it up without a fight.
At Arenson Law Group, PC, our Cedar Rapids property division attorneys will advocate for your rights and ensure you remain protected throughout the legal proceedings. To find out more about how we can help or to schedule a consultation, call us at (319) 363-8199 today.
How Courts Divide Property in Iowa
Unlike other states that use a 50/50 approach to divide marital property equally between spouses, Iowa laws use equitable distribution. That means the court will base their decisions, in part, on what each party contributed during the marriage and what they believe is “fair and reasonable.” Iowa is a no-fault state, which means the court won’t consider marital misconduct, like adultery, when dividing property and assets.
The court must evaluate some of the factors below in reaching its decision:
- Duration of the marriage
- Age, physical health, and emotional health of each spouse
- Both spouse’s economic situations, including vested or unvested pension benefits
- Property division agreements
- Contributions made to the marriage, including child care and homemaking
- Whether someone brought property into the marriage
- Tax consequences of property division for each spouse
- Whether one spouse is receiving alimony payments
- Each person’s earning capacity based on training, work experience, skills, education, absence from employment, custodial responsibilities for children, and the expense and time to train or educate oneself to become self-sufficient and live at a standard comparable to the one available in the marriage
- Any existing prenuptial agreements
- Each spouse’s contribution to the other’s training, education, or increased earning capacity
- Degree of desire to allow the custodial parent to keep the family home or live in it for a reasonable period with the children
Determining the Value of Marital Property
Dividing everything into marital property and separate property must occur before there can be a decision of who gets what. Marital property refers to all earnings, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage. Separate property includes anything owned by one spouse before the marriage and inheritance or gifts received before or during the marriage.
It is important to know that separate property can become marital property depending upon the facts of your case, and, just because you or your spouse owned a specific asset before marriage does not guarantee the court will let you keep that asset. Separate property, including gifts or inheritances can become marital under a variety of circumstances. One such circumstance is called commingling; where the separate property is mixed with marital property or otherwise can no longer be reasonably considered separate. For example, if you made deposits into a bank account that belonged only to your spouse, that may become marital property. A home one person owned before marriage could become marital property if both parties make payments on the mortgage and expenses. A common misconception is that the title of an asset determines what the court must do with it. For example, you may be thinking your car, which is titled in your name only, is yours and will stay your asset. Or, perhaps, you believe your bank account should remain yours because your spouse has never had access to it and is not listed as an owner. In Iowa, it does not necessarily matter how an asset is titled for the court to be able to award or divide it.
An experienced Cedar Rapids property division attorney of Arenson Law Group, PC will review everything you and your spouse own to determine if it’s something that belongs solely to you or something you must split. If you can’t agree about what’s marital property and what’s separate property, a judge might have to get involved in the process.
After splitting everything into the two categories, both spouses will assign each item a monetary value. You can hire a professional appraiser to assist you with that if you’re having difficulty or allow the court to determine how much everything is worth.
After assigning appropriate values to all the property, the equitable division will begin. One spouse will get certain assets, and the other could receive an equalizing payment if one person gets something of higher value than the other. Some couples might agree to continue joint ownership over property, such as the marital home or investment property. Others might decide it’s better to sell and split the profits.
Reaching a Decision About a Major Asset
One of the most disputed types of property during a divorce is the marital home. Many couples struggle with who should keep it or if they should sell it and make some money. The decision might be out of your hands if it’s separate property, but it’s no guarantee. For example, even assuming one of you owns the marital home and bought it before getting married, through marriage and by law your spouse has some interest in that property and you may not be able to dispose of the property without your spouse’s or perhaps the court’s approval.
Even then, deciding what happens with the asset is one thing. The other aspect is how to calculate the value and equity in the asset.
Speak with an Experienced Cedar Rapids Property Division Attorney
A critical point to remember when thinking about property division in your divorce is that, quite often, once an agreement is approved by the court or a decree, disposing of property, is entered, that property division and distribution cannot be undone or modified. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you understand all aspects of this part of your divorce and have the guidance of an attorney to help you navigate this issue. Otherwise, it may be impossible to fix or change down the road.
At Arenson Law Group, PC, we will help you resolve any disputes while you’re going through your divorce. It can seem like a never-ending battle but know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Our team will handle your sensitive case with compassion, support, and discretion. We know the decision to seek legal representation can be uncomfortable. However, the legal process is complicated, and we want to guide you through it.
Call us at (319) 363-8199 if you want someone to represent you during your divorce, so the property division is fair. One of our Cedar Rapids property division attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC will be happy to meet you for a consultation to review your legal options.
Written by James H. ArensonLast Updated : October 13, 2023