Wisconsin recognizes no fault divorce, on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In general, no fault means that your relationship is no longer viable and cannot be repaired – it does not matter who is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. After the decision to divorce is made, couples have many issues to consider, not the least of which is the division of marital property and debt.
Dividing Property in a Wisconsin Divorce
Wisconsin is one of the nine community property states in the country which means that marital property is subject to a 50/50 split in a divorce, with the exception of separate property such as property owned prior to the marriage, inheritance, or gifts given to one party. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes separate party is subject to property division if separate property has been co-mingled with marital property. An example might include where one spouse owns a home or a cabin prior to the marriage and both incomes are used to maintain the property during the marriage. Any marital assets that were devoted to the upkeep of the separate property figure into marital property division.
Dividing Debts in a Divorce
Martial assets such as a home, cars, retirement accounts and the like are just one side of the property division equation; marital debts must also be divided. Debt incurred during the marriage is also subject to a 50/50 split unless, for example, a loan is made out to one spouse based on separate property. However, marital debt such as credit card debt accrued during the marriage is split between spouses in a divorce equally regardless of whether only one name is on the account. All marital debt accrued during the marriage is split in the divorce. Because both parties are on the hook for debt accrued during the marriage, it is important to keep wraps on spending if divorce is imminent. If your spouse goes on a secret spending spree prior to your divorce, keep the word dissipation in mind as you may be able to offset those last minute purchases when dividing property in the divorce. There are financial consequences the court can impose when dividing marital assets for money spent on a girlfriend or just plain old revenge spending.
Focusing in on the Marital Home in a Divorce
Because the house is usually the most valuable asset couples own together, decisions regarding what to do with the house are often at the center of marital property division. If one spouse wishes to keep the home, they will most typically refinance the property in their name alone (provided they can qualify for a loan on one income) and perhaps secure a cash out refinance to pay the other spouse for their half of accrued equity. If cash is lacking, trading other assets or even taking on more of the marital debt burden may be an option. If neither spouse wishes to keep the home or a spouse is unable to secure a loan independently or lacks marital property or debt to trade, couples may decide to sell the home and split the proceeds. In this case, couples will have to make decisions regarding the sale of the property and all the preparations and expenses that entails. It is important to consider any tax consequences of keeping a home that has increased significantly in value as capital gains tax exemptions are greater for a married couple than a single person. Discussing the pros and cons of keeping the marital home in a divorce with your attorney can help you decide.
Have Questions Regarding Wisconsin Property Division in a Divorce?
The attorneys of Probst Law Offices have decades of family law experience and expertise to get you the most favorable outcome possible when dividing marital property and debt in a Wisconsin divorce. Contact our offices today for immediate assistance and a free initial consultation at 414-210-3135.