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Property - A House Divided

By Carol Ann Wilson


What do you think about when you think of property? Your joint savings account? The house you jointly own or that may be in your spouse's name, yet you have paid for half of it? You may think you already know all about property. But do your views meet the legal tests of what property is?

Although each couple is different, there are some averages when it comes to property. Most divorcing couples have household furnishings (89 percent), cars (71 percent), and some savings in the form of money in bank accounts, stocks, or bonds (61 percent). Almost half (46 percent) of the couples own or are buying a family home, which is likely to be a couple's most valuable asset. Only a small proportion of divorcing couples have a pension (24 percent), a business (11 percent), or other real estate (11 percent).

 It has been said that most divorcing couples have a net worth of less than $20,000. If this is so, it may be that couples are investing in their careers and earning capabilities instead of their savings accounts. The majority of todays couples both work. Many are professionals who have earned one or more degrees or have undertaken special training. They may see their careers as being more valuable than tangible assets. Because future income is typically of greater value than property, the main financial issues at divorce, particularly for women and children, are those of spousal and child support.

When looking at the property issues in divorce, couples usually ask these four questions:

    1. What constitutes property?
    2. What is it worth?
    3. At what date will it be valued?
    4. How will it be divided?
Our objective is to cover these questions, and show how to protect what belongs to you.

In the month of May we will be doing a four part series on property issues in divorce. Watch your email for the first in the series, "What constitutes property?"

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