Marital vs. Separate Property in a Utah Divorce

Property issues can sometimes be hotly contested between divorcing parties. Some parties will fight to the death over what some would call minor property issues such as the dogs or cats. While others sometimes don’t seem to have any problem at all dividing large estates with high dollar assets or other situations where one might imagine a costly and protracted fight in court. The point is that every case is unique and while some parties are able to agree on property disputes, others have difficulty reaching an agreement in this area. Frequently a client will call our office wanting to know what property they should receive in the divorce and what property their spouse may be entitled to. The general rule in Utah is that any property acquired by either party during the marriage is considered marital property and subject to an equitable division. Likewise on the other hand, any property owned by either party prior to the marriage is considered the separate property of the party who brought it into the marriage.

Exceptions to the General Rule

There are some exceptions to the general rule regarding marital property stated above. Where we often see a thorny issue is when a party owns a piece of property, often a home, prior to the marriage but then refinances in both parties’ names, adds the other party to the title etc., the parties spend money on improvements in the home, and other related activities such that the property becomes commingled and the general rule becomes less clear. In circumstances such as this, you should always speak with a lawyer prior to taking any other action.

Equitable Division of Property

Many clients also ask us what “equitable” means when it comes to dividing property. Generally equitable means whatever the judge in your case believes would be the fair distribution of the property. However, generally thinking of it as a 50/50 equal divide as a starting point can also make sense. While equitable doesn’t always mean equal, it is a good place to start when considering a property settlement. For more information with regards to your particular facts, please call and speak with an Ogden Utah Divorce Attorney at our law office today.

About Todd Peterson

Todd Peterson has been with Salcido Law firm for a number of years and specializes in Family Law practice. He is dedicated to helping people through the very difficult and highly emotionally charged times when they need a family law attorney.
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