Property division is an important aspect of a divorce, as it sets the tone for your financial future. You should not rely on a cookie cutter approach to your property settlement, as there are case-by-case circumstances and factors to consider. No two divorces are the same when it comes to dividing assets and debts. Once a property settlement agreement is finalized, it cannot be modified.
Iowa is an “equitable distribution” state, which means the assets of the marital estate are divided among the parties; of importance, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal”. It means fair.
If one party owned assets before the marriage, the assets will not automatically be excluded from the division. Gifts and/or inheritances, however, are more likely to be excluded from division and awarded to the recipient party, as long as the gift/inheritance has not been commingled or altered.
Based on the factors set forth.
- The length of the marriage.
- The property brought to the marriage by each party.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, giving appropriate economic value to each party’s contribution in homemaking and childcare services.
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other./li>
- The earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage.
- The desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in the family home for a reasonable period to the party having custody of the children, or if the parties have joint legal custody, to the party having physical care of the children
- The amount and duration of an order granting support payments to either party pursuant to section 598.21A and whether the property division should be in lieu of such payments.
- Other economic circumstances of each party, including pension benefits, vested or unvested. Future interests may be considered, but expectancies or interests arising from inherited or gifted property created under a will or other instrument under which the trustee, trustor, trust protector, or owner has the power to remove the party in question as a beneficiary, shall not be considered
- The tax consequences of each party.
- Any written agreement made by the parties concerning property distribution.
- The provisions of an antenuptial agreement.
- Other factors the court may determine to be relevant in an individual case.
Of note, a spouse’s “marital fault”, such as an affair, abuse, or hiding money, is not a factor that the court considers. One spouse will not receive more property because of the other party’s behavior during the marriage.
It is important you have an experienced attorney to help you navigate negotiations, or, if an agreement cannot be reached, to advocate or your behalf in court. At Sailer Law, we exercise due diligence so that you are comfortable the marital assets and debts are being disclosed. We bring on other professionals when necessary to help valuate complex assets like farmland or a business interest. It is important you are educated about your assets and debts so you can make good decisions during negotiations. We are with you every step of the way.
If you have questions, call Sailer Law today at (319) 260-2096 to schedule your confidential consultation.