When Is Equal Not Equitable?
Divorcing couples are often surprised to find out that their assets are not simply divided down the middle. Most states require that martial assets be divided equitably not necessarily equally, a distinction that can complicate divorce proceedings. Each spouse has a different idea of what “equitable” means and that is why attorneys use divorce settlement software to create multiple divorce scenarios. Several issues complicate property division.
What’s Mine Is Yours…Except When It’s Not – Most assets obtained during the divorce are considered jointly owned. However gifts given to one spouse might be considered that spouse’s individual property and not subject to property settlement. Unfortunately the situation is not always clear. For example if a spouse receives an inheritance that would normally be separate property, but if that inheritance is deposited in a joint account it may be considered a joint asset.
I Love Our Dog More Than You Do – Family pets are often fought over as much as the children are. For an average mutt this is merely an emotional issue, but a purebred animal might also have a significant monetary value. Even if the dog is considered the family pet, if one spouse shouldered the burden of responsibility for the animal’s care that spouse might be considered to own more than half of the animal.
You Cheated! – Spouses are often surprised to find adultery, abuse or other behaviors don’t affect division of assets. However there is one kind of cheating that will be a factor and that is financial fraud. If a spouse’s actions affected the family’s finances the court might award the other spouse a larger percentage of the estate.
We could go on but you get the idea. Family assets are more than just numbers to be entered into family law software, totaled and divided by two. The more complex the situation, the more difficult it is to get a resolution. It’s generally the best for all parties if some agreement can be reached without having to resort to a judge’s order that is likely to leave both spouses feeling cheated.
Divorce software for attorneys allows lawyers to present multiple scenarios to the opposing party. By putting a personal value on certain assets and by working with their clients to decide what can be sacrificed and what must be saved, they can boil the complex property division into several offers.
Family law offices that use settlement statement software are able to reach settlements more quickly, and find solutions that are fairer to their clients. Download a demo of our law firm software to see all the features we provide to the modern family law practice.