Vacanti | Shattuck | Finocchiaro Attorneys

Nebraska Property Division: What You Need To Obtain A Fair Settlement

Posted on April 6, 2014.

Reaching the final decision to divorce is emotional and involves many uncertainties. Many have concerns about what their finances will look like following a divorce. The court in any Nebraska property division reviews the unique facts of each case to reach a fair and reasonable decision.

If you were not involved in the day-to-day finances, you may have fears about not receiving a fair share. You will need to determine what you own and how much it is worth. Knowing what the court looks at in dividing property is also helpful.

1. Locate all the property

Property such as a vacation home, an employer retirement plan, rental farmland or a closely held business is often a part of the marital estate. A spouse may try to hide property by giving it to relatives or by moving money to a secret account.

A forensic accountant can assist with locating property. Forensic accountants act as financial detectives and are often able to trace disbursements from a joint account to a relative or secret investment fund.

Another common tactic is to undervalue income through business write offs. The forensic accountant may need to unravel company books to uncover how much a spouse actually earns. This is important when a spouse claims to earn very little through self-employment income even though you maintained a comfortable lifestyle.

2. Determine what property is worth

How much is your property worth? Account statements provide the balances of savings or retirement accounts. You may be able to use assessed value for land or real estate. With the fluctuations in property values, it is often worthwhile to hire a professional appraiser to get an accurate valuation. An antique car or coin collection can be more difficult to value and may require someone specialized to provide a correct value.

As you determine how much each piece of property is worth, you may want to consider whether the property is liquid. The equity acquired in property is generally not liquid and will not help you pay monthly expenses. Start to consider what your monthly expenses will be and whether you will need access to liquid assets to make ends meet.

3. Understand the standard used to divide property

If you cannot reach an agreement on how to divide the property, the court will complete a three-step process to reach an equitable distribution. First, the court will classify property as marital or nonmarital. The second step involves valuing all assets and debts. Then, in the third step, the court apportions property and debt after considering the following factors:

  • Circumstances of the parties
  • Length of the marriage
  • Contributions by each spouse (including care and education of children)
  • Any interruptions in educational or career opportunities

The division does not follow a strict mathematical formula. The court seeks to equitably divide property between the spouses. Nonmarital property is not subject to division and includes premarital property, an inheritance or gift acquired by one party during a marriage, however nonmarital property must be traceable.

Do you have questions about how divorce will affect your financial future? Contact a Nebraska family law attorney, who can discuss the property division process is more detail. A lawyer will be able to provide specific advice after reviewing your individual circumstances. Having an advocate in your corner can help you obtain a fair settlement.

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