As part of the Utah divorce process, the spouses must make a financial division. Some may be able to work out an agreement on their own, but most resolve this issue in the course of mandatory divorce mediation or subsequent court proceedings.
Understanding the basic principles of how Utah law treats property division can help you get a better idea of what to expect. Sometimes, complex issues arise during the division process that require an experienced attorney who can handle them effectively.
Marital and separate property
The first step in property division typically consists of distinguishing between marital and separate property. Generally, marital property is the majority of property that the spouses acquired during the marriage. Most separate property falls into three major categories:
- Property one spouse acquired before the marriage
- A gift conveyed during the marriage to one spouse
- Inheritance left to one spouse
Property division only applies to marital property. Utah employs the equitable approach, which focuses on fairness rather than a strict by-the-numbers 50/50 split. Sometimes the fairest division will also turn out to be 50/50. Other times, one spouse might get more or less based on factors such as physical custody, relative contributions, future earning capacity, state of health and any other relevant circumstances.
Methods of division
In many cases, courts will award each spouse various assets that work out to a roughly equivalent value. Another option is to order the couple to sell an asset and split the proceeds. This latter option may not always make sense, especially when delaing with assets such as the marital home or the family business. Sometimes, one spouse will buy out the other's interest in an asset.
Each case presents its own unique circumstances. If you face divorce, do not rush to assume that property division in your case must follow one particular route. Consult a qualified attorney about your options and priorities.