Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post column “Solo-ish”in which I was interviewed about housing and the impact of moving from your home during and after a separation and divorce. Here is the link to the article:
How will your retirement be divided in your divorce?
My clients are often surprised when I tell them that their retirement assets may be considered marital property. If you accumulated the funds during your marriage, they may be divided as part of your divorce. However, you may have other marital assets to divide as well. All of your marital property will be taken into account when deciding how to deal with your retirement plans.
It is important to understand your options so you can make an educated decision about what is best in your situation.
A concern for anyone going through a separation or divorce is how the property, bank accounts, and other assets you have will be divided when you separate. The first step in the process is figuring out whether the property you have is marital property or separate property.
Marital property usually includes the assets and debts you acquire during your marriage — It does not matter how something is titled.
If it accumulated during your marriage, it is marital property.
If it is a debt that accumulated during the marriage, it will be considered marital debt. An example of marital property that surprises many people is a retirement account that is separately titled. The portion of the retirement funds that accumulated during the marriage will be considered marital property. How the account is titled does not matter as long as the funds were acquired during the marriage.
Filing for divorce in DC is not a difficult process. However, before you can file for divorce in DC, you must be sure that all of the issues between you and your spouse are settled. Otherwise, you will have to file for divorce and go through the process as if the divorce is contested. This process is longer and more expensive than filing for an Uncontested Divorce.
Once you have settled all the outstanding issues with your spouse, such as division of your marital property, custody of your children, child support, division of retirement benefits, division of debts, etc., through a Separation Agreement, there are two other requirements that must be met before you can file for divorce in DC.
First, you must meet the residency requirement. This says that one of you must have been a continuous resident of DC for six months before you file for divorce.
A common question people ask me when they think they will separate and divorce is, “What will happen to my home?”
This can be a very emotional issue. The home may be associated with both pleasant memories and sad memories. There are several options to consider when it comes to the ownership of your home during divorce, and it is very important to discuss the various possibilities with your family law attorney.
There is equity in your home as well as debt. Home equity is the difference between the market value of your home (what you could sell it for) and the amount you owe on your home (your mortgage, line of credit, home equity loan, etc.).
Some of the options to consider are:
A Marital Separation Agreement or a Property Settlement Agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse.
It settles all of the issues that have arisen during your marriage.
The Separation Agreement spells out your rights and settles issues such as what will happen to your property, your bank accounts, your debts, child support, custody, health insurance, alimony, how retirement accounts will be divided, etc. It specifically lays out the terms of your separation and divorce, if you decide to proceed with a divorce.
All property and all debts acquired during your marriage are considered marital property. When you divorce, the property and the debt must be divided. This does not mean that it is divided equally. In DC, an equitable division is made.
Many factors are looked at in determining how to divide your property and your debt fairly and equitably.
Some of the factors that are considered are: the length of your marriage; your age; occupation; amount and sources of your income; your ability to find a job; the contribution made by one of you to help educate or help develop the career of the other one; whether you or your spouse interrupted your career to stay at home to take care of your children, etc.
It is important to make a list of all of your assets and all of your debt to show to your divorce attorney. It is also important to know whether the asset or debt was brought to the marriage or whether it accumulated during the marriage.
A common concern among people separating is what will happen to money or property they inherited or were given before they were married or during the time they were married.
As long as the property or funds remain separate and separately titled during the marriage and are not commingled (mixed) with marital funds or property, the inherited or gifted money or property will remain separate and will not be divided when you separate or divorce.