When you decide to end your relationship rather than stay in an unhappy marriage, you activate a series of events that includes having to resolve various issues concerning property, finances and other important topics. Wisconsin is one of only nine states that operate under community property guidelines in a divorce.
It’s critical that you understand ahead of time what this means and how it might affect your settlement. In a community property state, most marital assets are split 50/50 between a pair of spouses. Of course, you can’t physically split something like your house in half, so the guidelines refer to the value of your assets rather than the items themselves.
Were you given a gift or inheritance?
Perhaps, during your marriage, your grandparent or other relative died and named you as a beneficiary or heir in his or her will. Someone may have specifically designated your inheritance for you and you alone, meaning that there was no intention for your spouse to acquire ownership.
This type of issue is one that typically falls under exceptions to the rules of community property guidelines. If you receive a gift or inheritance during marriage that one intended for you and you alone, the value of the assets in question may not be subject to property division proceedings in divorce.
Marital debt is also subject to community property division in a divorce
Your marital property is not the only property division issue you must resolve if you file for divorce in a Wisconsin court. Under community property guidelines, you and your ex would also be equally liable for any debt you incurred during marriage.
Similar to gifts and inheritance, if you carried a debt into marriage, such as an unpaid college loan, the judge may determine that the debt is your sole responsibility as you finalize your divorce.
Never assume that a particular asset belongs to you alone
It’s a mistake to head to court thinking you already know what assets you’re entitled to and how much you will receive as a property division settlement. Unless you have a legal background that is well-versed in Wisconsin divorce laws, you may wind up surprised or disappointed if things don’t go the way you thought they might during proceedings.
This is why it’s always best to learn as much as you can ahead of time regarding property division guidelines and rules for divorce. It’s also a good idea to research full disclosure requirements for when it comes time to list all of your assets and liabilities. If you think that your ex is trying to give you the short end of the stick in court, it’s worth your time to learn about hidden assets and what to do if this problem arises in your divorce.