Marital Property Settlements
Often, one of the more contentious issues in a divorce is the division of property between spouses, especially after years of building a life together. Whether it is the family home, cars, savings accounts, or a shared business, the distribution of assets can quickly devolve from an amicable conversation to an all-out battle for control. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee divorce lawyer Terese J. Singer has helped many people throughout Wisconsin try to reach a marital property settlement that lays a strong foundation for their future.The Division of Marital Property in Wisconsin
When dividing the property and assets owned by a couple in Wisconsin, the law first considers which property is “individual property” and which property is “marital property.” Individual property is property owned specifically by one spouse, rather than both spouses, and it is not subject to division in a divorce. Instead, individual property remains with the original owner, regardless of any other agreements as to how assets should be divided.
In Wisconsin, individual property includes only gifts specifically given to one of the spouses (by someone other than the other spouse) as well as inheritances. Conversely, marital property includes the property that either spouse brought into the marriage or acquired during the marriage. It covers income as well as personal or real property, such as retirement funds, stocks, jewelry, homes, businesses, equipment, and many other types of assets.
Under Wisconsin law, marital property is generally divided 50/50 between each spouse. This is based on an initial assumption that the spouses contributed equally to the marriage. However, a spouse can request that the court deviate from this approach by considering factors such as:
- The property that each spouse brought into the marriage;
- The contributions that each spouse made to the marriage;
- The contributions that either spouse made to the education and career advancement of the other spouse;
- The earning capacity of each spouse compared to the other spouse; or
- The amount of individual property owned by each spouse.
When the spouses are willing to work together, it can be possible to divide property through a mutually agreeable marital settlement agreement. This spares spouses the cost of litigation and the uncertainty of allowing a judge to make critical decisions that affect their future. Marital settlement agreements can provide for the division of property in a way that is acceptable to both parties. Typically, a judge will sign off on an agreement as long as the division is reasonable and there is no evidence that either party was improperly coerced into such an agreement.
When considering whether to take this negotiated approach to divorce, as opposed to litigating in the courtroom, it is important to do your due diligence in carefully evaluating the value and nature of all property to be divided. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you in recognizing common pitfalls and complications when drafting a marital settlement agreement.Consult a Milwaukee Lawyer for a Divorce Matter
Depending on the nature of your divorce, and your current relationship with your former spouse, you may need the skillful tools of a negotiator as you draft a voluntary marital property settlement. Alternatively, you may need the aggressive tactics of a litigator as you fight for your right to certain assets in court. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee divorce attorney Terese J. Singer has extensive experience at both the negotiating table and in Wisconsin courtrooms. She can work with you to take an approach that is suited to your circumstances. As a knowledgeable family law attorney, she represents individuals in Port Washington, Mequon, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities throughout Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha Counties. Contact our office for more information at (414) 271-6400 or online to set up a free appointment.