What does my property have to do with divorce?

11954767_SWith divorce rates in the realm of fifty-percent, family law offices receive lots of calls from parties seeking a divorce.  The focus for some is all on the fact that the marriage is not working.  In some cases, a client explains that it has been a long downward spiral.   In other cases, a party may explain a sudden event, like an affair, that caused the marriage to become irreconcilable.  Either way, many want to end the marriage as quickly as possible.

Upon hiring a family law attorney, almost all clients are given various paperwork that they have to complete to begin the process.  A common element in this initial divorce paperwork is the completion of financial statements involving marital property and debt.

When a new divorce client — who is focused on the relationship itself — is given this financial paperwork, confusion and head scratching often ensues.  Questions and thoughts like these often reveal themselves: “I just want to get divorced.”  “Why do I have to fill out this lengthy and boring financial paperwork when I just want a divorce?” “Is this even necessary?”  “Filling out all this paperwork is going to be extremely difficult and time-consuming.”  “Can I just guess and give approximations?”  “My simple divorce is all of a sudden becoming complicated.”

Simply put, the focus on property and debt can often cause a new divorce client (focused on the downfall of the marriage) to become frustrated.  They don’t understand why this matters.  They don’t understand the point.  They are still hung up on the fact that the marriage didn’t work, which causes them to focus on the relationship dynamics and simply ending the marriage as quickly as possible.  As a result, this leads many to not completing the paperwork or doing a shoddy job with it.

So, why does property and debt matter?  When two parties become married, they become one person in the eyes of the law.  No matter whether somebody lives in a state that has equitable distribution, or is in one of those minority states still hanging on to community property principles, a family law court has to divide all the marital property and debt of the parties in a divorce.  Thus, if all marital property and debt is to be divided, it is critical that the family court knows what is out there, what it is worth, how it was acquired, when it was acquired and by what means, etc.  All these factors help a court determine how to divide marital property in a manner that is just.

Of course, even if two parties to a divorce are simply looking to settle without a judge deciding it, no attorney can give adequate advice about how marital property and debt should be divided if they do not the answers to these same questions.  Thus, while a party might simply want to focus on dissolving the marital union, property and debt issues are an unavoidable part of the divorce process because laws in just about every state require that all marital property and debt be itemized and divided to grant the divorce.

If you are growing through a divorce or family law matter with property and debt issues, you can call the divorce attorneys at Stange Law Firm, PC in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area at 314-963-4700.

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