Contributed by Miller Butler.
You’re getting a divorce and wondering how your property and debt will be divided… Miller | Butler is here to help. In Arkansas, the Court divides marital property equally, while returning non-marital property to the party owning it prior to the marriage. However, the court has discretion to make an unequal distribution of property when it is equitable to do so.
Marital property is considered all property acquired by either spouse after getting married, but marital property does not include gifts, inheritance, life insurance proceeds, trust distributions, or awards for permanent disability. Non-marital property is property owned prior to the marriage, such as a house owned by one party. Using marital funds to pay the debt of non-marital property does not convert it into marital property; however, there are arguments that can be made that credit should be given for the marital funds that were used to pay down that debt.
Just like property, debts are also divided equally. The Court also has discretion with debt to award an unequal distribution depending on the facts of each case.
Overall, the Court is looking to make an equitable division of property and debt in each case. In crafting their equitable division, the courts look at many factors: the length of the marriage; the age, health, and station in life of the parties; the occupation of the parties; the amount and sources of income; vocational skills; employability; the estate, liabilities, and needs of each party and opportunity for each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; the contribution of each party in acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of marital property, including services as a homemaker; and the federal income tax consequences.
Having an experienced attorney on your side during this process can make all the difference. The experienced family law attorneys at Miller | Butler will help guide you through the divorce process, making sure you know what you are entitled to under the law and advocating for that in and out of the courtroom.