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A: Contrary to what you may have heard from various divorce horror stories, your spouse cannot simply take everything from you in a divorce. It is common to hear divorced people complain about losing everything, but those statements are generally exaggerated and one-sided. No court is going to award all of a couple’s property to one party; the court must follow certain considerations when it is deciding who will keep what property.

Before considerations are taken, the couple’s property must be classified to determine which items are eligible for property division. This process will involve the court determining whether or not each asset was owned by one spouse prior to the date of marriage or by both spouses after the marriage took place. This will determine whether the asset is marital property or separate property. Most property that was owned before the marriage will not be subject to division. Property acquired after the marriage is subject.

Once all the property is classified, the court must apply a list of equitable factors in order to determine how to fairly divide the assets. Equitable distribution of property must take into consideration both spouse’s contributions to the marriage, which can include homemaking and childcare activities as well as monetary contributions.

Alan Finkel

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