How Property Division Works During a Divorce

Posted: 13 December, 2019

Dividing up marital property, including all marital assets and debts, is one of the primary goals of divorce. In many cases, it is also the source of contention and bitter disputes. Following custody of the children, the division of marital property and assets may be the most contentious issue during a divorce. Nevada is a community property state, generally meaning that all assets acquired by a couple during a marriage are divided equally when divorce occurs. If the parties cannot agree upon who gets what property, the courts will make the determination while attempting to divide the assets as equitably as possible.

Community vs. Separate Property

There are also two types of property, community property and separate property. Community property is anything you earn or buy after the marriage. Separate property is something gifted specifically to one spouse or property acquired before the marriage that has not been subject to commingling.

Generally, separate property is not divided during divorce proceedings. Instead, it is returned to the spouse who owns it. If there is a dispute over whether assets are separate or community, it is left to the court to make the final determination.

Property Division of Separate Property

When the court considers a property that is separate or non-marital, that property gets set aside. It is not part of the distribution of community property. Separate property consists of the following:

  • Inheritance of one spouse;
  • Property that a spouse purchased before the marriage (and didn’t commingle);
  • Gifts during the marriage explicitly given as separate property;
  • Property a spouse buys after the marriage with money or assets that are already separate property;
  • Property bought after the marriage with an attached written agreement saying it will remain separate property.

Commingling separate property is where this gets complicated. Let’s say you purchased a home before you married your spouse, but then paid the mortgage with money you earned after the marriage. Because the money you earn after your wedding date is community property, your home is now community property.

If you use the separate property for the benefit of the marriage, it becomes community property. Any inheritance or gifts must stay separate from the community property/accounts. If you deposit money given as an inheritance into a community bank account, then the money is now community property.

Property Division of Community Property

Any property that is community property, or separate property that becomes community property is divided equally between the two spouses during a divorce. This includes:

Equitable Distribution

Although Nevada is not an equitable distribution state, it’s good to understand how it works. Equitable distribution means that the court looks at several things to ensure both parties get equal assets and liabilities based on their situation. In simple terms, it means the court divides assets based on what it thinks is fair.

Your divorce attorney will do the following three things when looking at property division:

  1. Determine what your assets are;
  2. Determine for each asset whether it is separate or community property;
  3. Determine the value of each asset.

Hiding Assets

You always hear about divorce cases where one spouse managed to hide assets or devalue something to make sure they came out ahead of the of their ex. This is different than protecting assets prior to divorce.

Engaging in this behavior is unwise. At best, the judge rules that the offending spouse pay out a portion of whatever they hid to the other spouse. At worst, it biases the judge against the offending spouse for the rest of the case.

Division of Debts

Nevada divides debts in the same way as the assets, equally.

This can present problems if one spouse tends to run up credit card debt or take out loans more frequently than the other.

Community debts include the following:

  • Bank loans;
  • Credit card balances;
  • Mortgages;
  • Vehicle loans;
  • School loans;
  • Medical bills.

Contact an Experienced Nevada Divorce Lawyer for Assistance with Property Division Issues

As you can see, the division of assets and property during divorce isn’t always a cut-and-dried process. If you have questions or need assistance with this or any other aspect of divorce, contact an experienced Nevada divorce attorney at Right Lawyers by calling (702) 914-0400.