Not all marriages in West Virginia last for a lifetime. For any number of reasons, some couples decide to just call it quits. Inevitably, many divorcing couples will worry about how their assets will be divided. This is where the concept of marital assets come in. Married couples should know what marital assets are and how they may be split in the event of a divorce.
Forbes describes marital assets as assets and property that are accumulated by a couple during marriage. This includes property the couple owns, such as a house, or vehicles like automobiles and boats. Marital assets can also include a bank account held in the names of both spouses, or investments in financial portfolios. Conversely, separate assets are those assets only owned by one spouse. Typically, separate assets are acquired before the marriage, but spouses can still acquire separate assets during marriage if those assets are not co-mingled with existing marital property.
Should a couple decide to divorce, state law will determine how marital assets are divided. Nine states are community property states, which means those states will consider all marital property to be jointly owned by the spouses and will distribute it fifty-fifty among the two spouses when they divorce. However, according to Findlaw, West Virginia is not a community property state, so distribution of marital assets will vary case by case.
Typically, a judge will be inclined to award about half of the marital assets to each spouse, particularly if the divorce is mostly amicable. However, divorces can be rancorous, with one spouse alleging a fault against the other like cruelty or adultery. In such instances, a judge may decide that one spouse should receive a greater share of the assets than the other.
However, property disputes do not always have to be solved by a court. In the event divorcing spouses draw up their own agreement for distributing their assets, such as through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, many courts will have no problem accepting the terms of the two spouses, provided that the agreements do not violate existing laws.