Dividing property in divorce causes bitter court battles between many couples. That is a great way for you both to waste money, time and mental energy.
Once you decide your marriage is over, the best thing for everyone is to settle things as soon as possible. That way, you can put the past behind you and start rebuilding your lives.
Taking a realistic rather than idealistic attitude to property division can help speed the process. Yes, you might want to get the house, the car and 90% of everything else, but your spouse will never give you that. Nor will a judge.
- What do we own?
Work through the house one room at a time and list everything you own. Now create a second column and put values on everything. If you are unsure, get help. Small things can add up, and the value of some items can change drastically over time. For instance, the painting you bought at a student art show 10 years ago might be worth a lot more now if the painter became well known.
Once you have done that, list non-physical items like investments or pension funds. Don’t forget about the debts either.
- What do we need to divide?
Second, you need to understand what is separate property because this does not get divided. It includes things like inheritances, the property you owned before marrying and any gifts someone gave to you alone.
- How must we divide it?
North Dakota uses the principle of equitable distribution for marital property. Once you work out what is marital property and what is separate, you need to work out what a court would consider a fair division. Getting impartial advice is crucial here, as emotions can make it hard to determine what is reasonable or not.
If you and your spouse can agree on how to split things, you can ask a judge to approve it. If you cannot, you will need help to argue your case in front of a judge.