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Tips for navigating property division in divorce

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Divorce

Even if both you and your ex have similar incomes, it is rare that partners on equal footing in terms of personal property. So, if you decided to divorce, it pays to understand the technical nature of property division in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, the division of marital property follows a community property law, meaning all property is subject to be evenly split. However, no matter how fair the judge is, there are several reasons a 50/50 split doesn’t equate to “one for me, and one for you.”

Uneven property division

According to Wisconsin state statute, these are some typical reasons a judge could order a not-so-equal distribution of property:

  • Length of marriage and earning capacity: Short or long marriages could create unequal distribution. If one spouse relied on the other for financial support for a long time, then they could end up with more property after the settlement. And if one spouse can financially support themselves for longer or with more ease after divorce, then they may receive less in the split.
  • Age and health: Proximity to retirement age and the state of each party’s physical and emotional health could affect property division. If one spouse’s mental illness seems to threaten any assets, then the court can freeze specific accounts for to protect both parties.
  • Premarital assets: Any property owned before marriage or debts, gifts or inheritance that are separate from your ex-spouse will remain 100% yours. But if you deposit inheritance money from a relative into a joint bank account, then it becomes commingled property that you don’t have full rights to keep all to yourself.
  • Child’s best interest: If you have children, the judge can decide to put aside part of the property in a separate fund or trust if it serves the well-being of your children.

Each divorce case is unique, but misunderstandings, arguments and overall stress about dividing finances are not uncommon. Entering litigation with this knowledge could help ease the process.