When a Utah couple decides to end their marriage, that is only the beginning of a process that can take weeks, if not months. Depending on a couple’s circumstances, there are a multitude of issues that need to be resolved before the divorce is officially finalized. Making sure that all of the relevant issues are dealt with could take some planning and patience.
If a couple has children, issues surrounding custody, visitation and child support will be a priority. Once the parties come to an agreement, they can turn to the task of dividing their assets. Often, this is where the majority of the parties’ time is spent.
Before the assets can be divided, it is necessary to have a complete understanding of what debts and assets constitute the marital estate. This could mean that the first step would be to separate out any property that belongs to one of the parties outside the marital estate. Once separate property, if any, is removed from the equation, the parties can then turn to the property that may be partially separate and partially joint. The value of other property may not be as simple as its appraised value.
For example, if one party started a retirement account prior to the marriage, any amount in the account up to the date the couple was married may be separate property. However, any increase in the account from the date of marriage forward may be subject to division. Another example is the family home, which may have an appraised value equal to another asset, but the parties need to take into consideration issues such as taxes and maintenance before finding its real value.
These and other issues will need to be negotiated before a divorce settlement can be finalized. If a Utah couple is unable to come to an agreement on a certain issue, it can be taken to the courts. Since the divorce process can easily get complex, it is clearly in the best interest of each party to be represented by counsel.