Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

How does the court divide spouses' property during a divorce?

Salt Lake City residents can spend decades acquiring various assets. Married couples often accumulate more valuable assets over the years as their incomes grow. Accordingly, when the couple decides to get a divorce, there can be serious questions about how to divide all of the personal and real property that has been acquired during the divorce.

Utah law spells out the process of property division at the end of a marriage. Typically, a court in a divorce will attempt to divide the property in an equitable manner. This does not mean the property will be divided completely equally between the spouses, but the court will divide the property in as fair of a manner as possible.

While this sounds straightforward, it can become complicated depending on what assets are owned by the couple. Accordingly, to resolve disputes over property division, courts consider a number of factors. Among other factors, courts will typically look at how long the spouses were married, as well as their age, health and occupations.

For instance, if the couple was married for several years, the court may attempt to divide the property as equally as possible between the spouses. This might not be the case for short-term marriages, however, as the court may attempt to give the property back to the spouse who owned it prior to the marriage.

Ultimately, each case will differ depending on the factors that are involved. Spouses should understand what factors will apply in their case and how the court will apply those factors to the facts of the case. With this understanding in place, an individual can best position himself or herself for an equitable distribution of property during the divorce.

Source: Utah Courts, "Property division," accessed on June 6, 2015

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