Division of Assets
Dividing Assets and Debts
Aside from determining child custody and support issues, dividing assets in divorce (and debts) is the most important (and, often, time-consuming) aspect of divorce. In New Mexico, the division of property and other assets basically comes down to determining whether property is community or separate property or a mixture of the two.
Determining which property is community and which is separate can be a complex task that requires the experience and knowledge of an experienced New Mexico divorce attorney like the office of Claire Sanderson Hanna Law Firm. It you can also involve the expertise of an accountant or other financial expert.
Because doing an inventory of assets and debts can be a long, tedious process, if you and your spouse have acquired a good deal of material things during your marriage, a pro se divorce is not your best option. When hundreds of thousands of dollars is at stake, you want to be sure you remember to inventory everything you and your spouse own together or separately.
Some people do not even realize that certain property is considered community property. Anything that is considered community property can be divided among the spouses during a divorce. Community property is defined as “any property which either spouse acquires during their marriage, except for property acquired by gift, inheritance or property excluded by a prenuptial agreement.”
“Separate” property is typically owned only by one spouse and is not subject to division. But you would be surprised at what is considered community property, especially if you have been a stay-at-home parent and/or do not handle the finances for the home. For instance, if you and your spouse purchased a house twenty years ago but your name is not on the house, you may still be entitled to a portion of the value of the home’s equity. If the home was purchased during the marriage with income earned by either or both parties, then the home is presumed to be community property regardless of whether one spouse earned more than the other spouse and therefore contributed more money to the real estate.
Community property is a legal term that covers a vast number of types of property a couple may come to own including:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Frequent flyer miles
- Personal property including items as small as tools
This list is not a complete list of what may be considered community property. Debts incurred by spouses while married are also subject to division. Examples of community debt include: credit card debt by either spouse incurred during the marriage, mortgages, and loans against 401ks incurred during the marriage. Debts are often associated with an asset, and the court will often assign these debts to the spouse who retains the asset.
If you are considering a trial separation, contact the family law attorneys at The Claire Sanderson Hanna Law Firm. Put our experience to work for you by calling (505) 243-0900.
One Executive Center
8500 Menaul NE, Suite B-550
Albuquerque, NM 87112
t: (505) 243-0900
f: (505) 243-5785