Can a Divorce Leave Me with Nothing?

In considering a divorce, how the marital property is going to be divided, and perhaps fought over, is a concern that most people worry over. There is much more than property to think about in a divorce, but this issue looms large.

As you might imagine, the laws that govern who gets what have ancient roots, and have evolved over many millions of cases, to address a broad range of specific factors and to enable, as far as possible, equitable outcomes.

Property division laws are usually more concerned with how and when an asset was acquired than they are with how much it’s worth.

The specific laws related to property division are complex, but a simple guideline to follow is this: If the asset was acquired during the marriage, then it is likely subject to division. It doesn’t matter if that asset is a vehicle, house, savings account, stocks, or even an increase in value to a previously-owned item. Gifts between spouses can even be subject to property division (for example, a $50,000 diamond ring).

It also doesn’t matter if the asset is only in one person’s name; if it was acquired during the marriage, then it will most likely be subject to property division laws.

By analogy, a good CPA brings his or her detailed knowledge and experience to bear on finding your assets and minimizing your liabilities. Your CPA works to minimize your exposure, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Your attorney plays a similar role in representing your interests in the dividing of marital property. Your attorney is going to help you consider your assets and your priorities in detail. There are short- and long-term considerations.

Of course, there are other factors that will be considered in deciding who gets what, such as the duration of the marriage, assets acquired before the marriage, and many more. The rules are detailed. You aren’t going to figure your likely outcomes out by yourself. Worrying about it more doesn’t do anything to improve your chances.

You aren’t going to make your best decisions, or make your best plans, by yourself, under the stress and emotion of a divorce. It’s clearly in your best interest to contact a skilled attorney immediately. They will be able to sort out and protect your property, as one important aspect of the divorce. In an adversarial situation, they will come up with a strategy and a plan for you, to get you the best outcomes you can get, under the law.