California readers of this blog often come across the statement that divorce laws are different from one state to the next, and at times more than one state's rules apply to a single divorce case. But how do they differ?
Very few states follow the community property theory when it comes to dividing assets that a couple has accumulated during the divorce. Community property theory grants each couple a 50/50 interest in assets while other states will use an equitable division theory that distributes the assets under equity arguments.
There is more to property division differences than the overall way in which marital property is divided. How about when assets are no longer considered marital? Some states consider accumulated assets as marital up until the date the divorce is finalized. Other states set the "cut-off" date as the date of filing, and some even allow the couples to choose a date of separation.
Inheritance is often a subject of contention between couples, and states differ on whether inheritances are considered marital or not. Some states follow a theory of comingling assets -- if inheritance money is used for the down payment of a joint home. Some states will keep it separate if it was designated as being given to only one spouse and it remains separate.
Property division is not the only area where divorce laws in one state are not the same as in the next. Consulting an attorney with experience in complex cases is one way to ensure that you get what you want out of your divorce. In our next post, we'll discuss some other differences.
Source: Fox Business, "How States Differ on Divorce Laws," Cindy Vanegas, May 7, 2012