The idea of divorce can be simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. People who have struggled emotionally in an unhappy marriage for years may feel relieved when they realize that they can soon extricate themselves from the situation. Others may feel fear or anxiety over the idea of drastically altering their financial circumstances or daily routines.
Every state has a slightly different approach to divorce proceedings, which can lead to people having inaccurate expectations for how the family courts will handle their filing. Property division matters, in particular, often confuse people because they seem to be so subjective.
How would the Utah family courts divide your property in the event of a litigated divorce?
The state applies an equitable distribution rule
In Utah, the goal of property division litigation is to produce a fair outcome. State law includes an equitable distribution statute that requires a judge to familiarize themselves with the family’s circumstances when making decisions about their assets and debts.
You can expect that most of the property you acquired while married and any income you or your spouse earned will be part of your marital estate. With the exception of items you own prior to marriage, assets you inherited and resources you protected with a marital agreement, most of your property may be on the table for asset division proceedings.
A judge can create very unique rulings based on their interpretation of a family’s circumstances and needs. They can grant one spouse certain property, order one person to pay specific debts or even compel a couple to sell their assets and split the proceeds.
Litigation isn’t the only option
You don’t have to put your financial future in the hands of a family law judge. You have the option of creating your own property division settlement with your spouse. It may require negotiations through your lawyers or even mediation sessions, but the two of you can potentially reach a mutual agreement about what would be a fair and appropriate way for you to divide your property.
When you are unable to reach a settlement, then the courts can make those determinations for you. Details ranging from the length of your marriage and your earning potential to your separate property and your custody arrangements can influence what a judge determines is appropriate for the property division decisions in your case.
Learning more about the rules that govern Utah divorce proceedings will help those preparing to end their marriages.