Property Division in Wisconsin Divorce

Property Division in Wisconsin Divorce

Many questions arise from property division in Wisconsin divorce. Clients often wish to retain possession of certain items of personal property, from furniture to bank accounts to pets. Sometimes, people have an idea that property should be divided in a certain way, because “he cheated on me,” or because “she was the one who wanted the divorce.” This blog entry will briefly explain how property division in Wisconsin divorce is addressed, and what you can expect to happen to your assets and debts.

Marital property can take many forms. Marital property can be a house, land, or other real property, bank accounts, retirement accounts or pensions, and stocks or stock options. Automobiles and household items, from refrigerators to bicycles, are other forms of property.  Debts, such as mortgages, credit cards, student loans, lines of credit and auto loans must also be allocated.

If spouses reach an agreement on property division in a Wisconsin divorce, the court will usually sign an order accordingly. A property division agreement is a good way to retain control of the outcome of a divorce. If spouses are unable to agree on allocation of assets and debts, however, the court must step in and decide. Wisconsin is a “community property” state. This means that property will be divided as equitably as possible, depending on whether it is considered to be marital or non-marital. Generally speaking, any property that is earned or obtained, by either party, during the course of the marriage, is marital property.  Property inherited or gifted to one of the spouses is considered separate property. Only marital property is subject to division between the spouses.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on property division, the judge will decide. Judges look at many factors when assessing property division in a Wisconsin divorce.  These factors include property that was owned before marriage,  the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of the spouses, age and health, and how each spouse contributed to the marriage. The division of property is presumed to be equal, but is sometimes be allocated unequally after applying the relevant factors above.

Sometimes, people feel strongly about keeping certain items of personal property. For example, a wedding dress, a family heirloom, or a piece of furniture. If there are items of personal property that are of significant importance to you, it is important to distinguish the item’s objective worth from its subjective worth. For example, your grandmother’s quilt would not be valuable to someone else, but may be priceless to you. Valuable things should be maintained properly, so make sure to check out this site to keep them clean Because the quilt has little objective value, you could keep it as part of the property division without much difficulty. However, if the item you want to keep is objectively valuable, your spouse would be entitled to an asset of equal value to balance the estate division. For the most part, people work out division of personal property between themselves, without involving the court. To do otherwise is often time consuming and costly.

There are countless ways for property division to be resolved at divorce. Every case is different, and each family has a unique collection of assets and debts, and unique perspectives as to how they should be divided. These issues can be complex. If you have concerns about how property is to be divided in your divorce, we encourage you to contact our offices for a free half-hour consultation.

Published by David Kowalski

Attorney David Kowalski is the founding owner of Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC, handling all family law cases from divorce, paternity, child custody, termination of parental rights, restraining orders, and guardianships.

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