Will I Get to Keep My House, My Car, and My Property After My Divorce?

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Divorce Law
This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.

What Will I Get to Keep After My Divorce?

moving boxes for relocationDuring asset division, you and your spouse will work to agree on who keeps the house, car, and property after the divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree, a judge will decide. A divorce attorney could also negotiate who gets what asset and debt. Divorce lawyers have experience with negotiations and can help you obtain the marital assets you seek.

Dividing assets and assigning marital debt can be challenging in any divorce. Alabama is an equal distribution state, meaning the property gets divided based on what seems most fair to each spouse. Some couples can divide marital property on their own. Others may need the assistance of a mediator or attorney to negotiate who gets each asset and who assumes any debts the couple may have.

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Alabama Is an Equitable Distribution State for Divorce Property Division

Regarding dividing assets, Alabama is considered an equitable distribution state. Therefore, the courts distribute marital assets following statutory guidelines. The courts seek to produce a fair but not necessarily equal property division. In other words, the split will not necessarily result in a 50/50 division.

If you believe you should keep the house, car, and property after divorce, you can explain this to the judge. The judge will then decide based on what they feel is most equitable.

The Steps of a Property Division

There are three steps to dividing property—regardless of whether you and your spouse handle property division on your own or if the courts handle it for you.

The three steps include:

  • Determining if the assets constitute marital or separate property
  • Agreeing on the value of the marital property
  • Dividing the property

Determining if Assets Constitute Marital Property or Separate Property

Assets acquired by the couple during the marriage are usually considered marital property. The judge will decide who gets what property if the divorce goes to court. Even if one spouse technically bought a piece of property, the judge could grant the property to the other party. Couples who create their own property division agreements can divide assets however they want.

The property belongs to a spouse privately if one spouse:

  • Owned the property before the marriage
  • Receives the property as a gift
  • Gets the property as an inheritance

The spouse who owns the property will get to keep it after the divorce. Separate property will not get divided among the spouses.

Determining who gets what property during a divorce can pose a challenge. Many couples can divide property themselves and choose who gets what assets. However, a judge must decide if the couple cannot determine who gets what property.

A divorce lawyer can help you during the property division process. First, we can negotiate with the other party to allow you to acquire the property you wish. Then, if the decision goes to a judge, an attorney can advocate for you to get the property you desire.

Determining the Value of Marital Property​

Once you determine which assets constitute marital property, the spouses can assign a monetary value to each item. Although, if the spouses cannot decide on a particular item’s worth, the courts will decide the monetary value. Some assets may prove more difficult to calculate.

They could include:

  • The family home: The family home may have appreciated since the couple initially purchased it. You may want to hire a realtor or appraiser to know the current monetary value of the house.
  • Retirement accounts: A financial advisor or accountant could help you determine the monetary value of retirement accounts.
  • Investments: Investment accounts could have appreciated or depreciated throughout the marriage. A financial advisor can help you determine the monetary value of investment accounts.
  • Collectible vehicles and art: An appraiser helps determine the monetary value of assets such as art or collectible cars.

Determining a monetary value for their assets gives the divorcing couple a better chance at a fair divorce agreement.

Determining How to Divide the Property

The couple can begin property division after assets get assigned a monetary value. There are three ways a couple can decide to divide each piece of property.

They include:

  1. Selling the property and splitting the money from the sale evenly
  2. Splitting the property up, and each spouse receives property
  3. Keeping the property together. For instance, consider a case where a couple has an investment property that could increase in value—and both parties want to keep it. In amicable divorces, divorced couples can own a piece of property together.

A judge will get involved if the couple cannot decide how to divide their assets. Once a judge becomes involved, the couple no longer has the authority to choose who gets what property in their divorce. The judge will look at the individual facts of each case to determine who gets what property.

When dividing assets among divorced couples, the judge will consider:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s health
  • The couple’s standard of living when they were married
  • If one spouse contributed to the education or training of the other to increase their earning capacity
  • The monetary value of the property
  • Potential tax consequences
  • Different types of income, such as retirement or disability benefits
  • If the grounds for divorce were because of the fault of one party

In a fault-based divorce, the judge could grant the party who did not cause the divorce more property during asset division.

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Determining if You Can Afford the Assets You Want

Divorces can be emotionally charged. For example, the pain and anger of a divorce can cloud a couple’s judgment around major decisions such as property division. You may also hold sentimental value to property such as the house or your car. These emotional circumstances are typical during divorces, making practical decision-making challenging.

When fighting for a house, car, and other property during divorce, you should determine if you can afford these assets on your own. In your marriage, you and your spouse may have only been able to afford the house with two incomes. If you win the home and car in a divorce, you become responsible for payments and maintenance on these assets.

Expenses Associated With Owning a Home

You should consider the expenses accompanying a home if you get awarded the house in your divorce settlement.

These expenses can include:

  • The mortgage payment
  • Property taxes
  • Electric and gas bill
  • Maintenance such as house painting, landscaping, or cleaning gutters
  • Repairs if your air conditioner or other large appliance breaks down
  • Homeowners insurance

You must consider these factors before fighting to keep the house in your divorce. If you believe you can afford the home independently, a lawyer can help you fight to keep that asset.

Expenses Associated With Owning a Car

If you get awarded a car in the divorce settlement, you must consider its expenses. While everyone usually needs some form of transportation, you should ensure you can afford this vehicle on your own.

Costs that could come along with owning a car include:

  • Monthly payments on the car loan
  • The gas mileage your current vehicle gets
  • Keeping up with maintenance such as getting the oil changed, changing the filter, or rotating the tires
  • Major or minor repairs
  • Car insurance

If you believe you can afford a particular vehicle after the divorce, a lawyer can work to help you keep that asset. When fighting for assets that hold value, you may want to choose an attorney with experience handling similar negotiations in the past.

A Divorce Attorney Can Help You Seek Alimony

If you cannot maintain the lifestyle you had while you were married, you could seek alimony. Alimony is an allowance from one spouse to the other for financial support after a divorce.

According to Alabama law, one spouse must pay alimony when the courts find:

  • The other party lacks a separate estate, or their current estate does not preserve the status quo during the marriage.
  • The other party can supply those means without causing economic hardship.
  • The circumstances of the case make providing alimony equitable.

You may need alimony payments to continue the same standard of living. If so, a lawyer can help.

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How No-Fault and Fault-Based Divorce Affects Property Division

dividing assetsYour assets can rely heavily on whether you have a no-fault or fault divorce. In a fault-based divorce, a judge will look at the grounds for divorce. They could favor the party that did not cause the divorce during asset division. Alabama law provides the grounds for divorce in Alabama. The grounds for divorce may be fault-based or no-fault.

No-Fault Divorce

In a no-fault divorce, neither party holds blame. A no-fault divorce could still get contested, however. For example, spouses can still disagree on asset division, child custody, and child support issues.

No-fault grounds for divorce include:

  • An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This means that any attempts at reconciliation will not prove practical nor in the best interests of the family or spouses.
  • The spouses acknowledge an incompatibility of temperament, and the parties can no longer live together.​

Fault Divorce

When one spouse claims the other’s actions were the cause of the marriage’s failure, they seek a fault-based divorce filing. If you can prove your spouse was at-fault for the divorce, it is more likely for the courts to grant you a more favorable settlement.

Fault-based grounds for divorce include:

  • A spouse commits adultery. Adultery refers to situations when a spouse has a sexual relationship with someone other than their lawful spouse.
  • The wife becomes pregnant during the marriage without the husband’s knowledge.
  • A spouse voluntarily abandons the other.
  • A spouse goes to prison for at least two years, with their sentence lasting over seven years.
  • A spouse is abusive. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or other forms of abuse.
  • A mental hospital confines a spouse for at least five years of the marriage.
  • A spouse becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs during the marriage. Drug addiction or habitual use could include opiates, morphine, cocaine, or other similar drugs.

A Divorce Attorney Can Secure the Assets You Want

When spouses initiate the divorce process, complex issues arise. One or both spouses may worry about maintaining their current lifestyle. A divorce attorney can help you through every step of a divorce when you and your spouse cannot agree on asset division. An attorney can fight for you to receive the assets you want and need to protect your current lifestyle.

A lawyer can:

  • Negotiate with the other party to devise a resolution that works for both sides
  • Prepare your case to present before a judge if you and your spouse cannot settle negotiations. An attorney can advocate for you to receive the assets you deserve in a divorce.

Hiring a divorce lawyer can provide you with the guidance needed during the negotiation process of asset division. You don’t have to face the complications of asset division on your own.

A Lawyer Can Fight to Help You Keep a House or Other Property After Divorce

If you want to keep your house, car, and property after a divorce, an attorney can help. Divorce lawyers have handled these negotiations and can help you fight for what you believe you may deserve. Dividing assets is too hard to do on your own. A lawyer can navigate those complexities and seek the most favorable outcome in your divorce.

Many firms offer no-obligation consultations. During a consultation, you can discuss the circumstances of your divorce and review the assets that are important to you. Contact a divorce lawyer today to get started.

Getting a divorce can be daunting, but we will help you take the next step in building a better future. Move to a brighter future with clarity and confidence.

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