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What property gets divided in a divorce proceeding?

Dividing marital assets in a divorce can be overwhelming for everyone involved. People often don't realize that the process of property division can be complicated and frustrating.

Couples in Maryland will find that in the event of a divorce, their property will be divided according to an equitable distribution division scheme. While this often means splitting property equally between the two former spouses, equitable distribution requires the court to consider additional factors prior to deciding who will get what. This process can be more difficult when a property's value is hard to determine.

If an asset is too speculative or complicated to value, it might not be considered property the court can split. The Alaska Supreme Court recently addressed the issue in a case involving a federal health benefit package. The case involved a former service member who received a post-retirement insurance policy for his service.

The husband argued the policy was neither an asset capable of dividing nor one the state court could consider. Can the value of a health care policy be determined to divide between two people? And if it is a federal benefit, can the state decide whether it is marital property?

The state's Supreme Court found that the policy should be divided because its value can be determined. In addition, the state can determine if these federal benefits are marital property because federal law allows it.

Whether an item is marital property is an important matter in a divorce proceeding and can ultimately affect both spouses' financial situation after the divorce is finalized. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help ensure that the property is fairly divided.

Source: Insurance News, "Alaska Supreme Court rules military health insurance counts as marital asset," Pat Murphy, Dec. 19 2011

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