Process of Distributing Property in DC 

Dividing up property while undergoing the divorce process is difficult. Especially if you have been married for a long time, it can be difficult to determine who owns what, and who has a right to take what, adding stress to an already stressful situation.

Working with a property division lawyer can alleviate that stress. If you have any questions regarding the process of distributing property in DC, speak with an experienced property division lawyer that can work towards a positive outcome for you.

How Property is Distributed

The process of distributing property in DC is not as rigid as people may assume. The actual distribution of property can take place in any way, as long as the spouses can agree on. If the spouses have negotiated the terms of the property distribution and personal property is going to be assigned to either one spouse to another, it is often just physically taken by the spouse who has been assigned it when the spouses cease living together.

There may be legal documents required to transfer the title of things that had been marital property, such as vehicles, but if there is real property or certain items of personal property that are extremely high in value that the spouses have not been able to assign to one another, those may need to be auctioned off and the proceeds from that auction be divided between the spouses.

Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution is required by DC law when determining how the marital assets will be divided between two partners when a marriage ends. Equitable distribution requires the distribution to the fair and reasonable, but it does not necessarily require an equal split.

The equitable distribution can be determined between the parties themselves depending on whatever factors they want to take into account and if they have come into an agreement, the court will enforce it. By the same token, if the parties have a valid premarital or postnuptial agreement that determines how the assets will be divided, the court will just consider that agreement to be an equitable distribution and will enforce its terms.

Determining Equal Distribution

The court plays a vital role in the process of distributing property in DC. If a couple cannot agree on how the marital assets will be divided, the court will have to distinguish what is marital and then will determine how the assets should be divided to remain true to the equitable distribution required by law.

By law, the court has to take into account many different factors in determining what would be an equitable distribution, including:

  • Contributions of each spouse to the marital property
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s occupation
  • Each spouse’s vocation skills
  • The employability of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s assets, liabilities,  and needs
  • Separate property and debts of the spouses
  • Either party’s obligations as a result of any prior marriage or domestic partnership
  • Any custodial provisions for children, if there are any children involved
  • Age and health of the spouses

Property Settlement Agreements

A property settlement agreement is an agreement drafted during the separation and/or divorce proceeding. Similar to a marital agreement, it determines how the marital assets will be divided when the divorce proceedings are concluded.

A property settlement agreement also allows the parties to negotiate directly with one another to agree on the terms of how the marital property will be divided. It is important to have legal representation before signing any property settlement agreement, as it will have the same effect as a final divorce decree entered by the court.

In deciding whether to enter into a particular property settlement agreement, it is important to understand what the court is likely to order. An experienced attorney can compare the terms of a negotiated settlement to what might happen in court if an individual does not sign, which can equip them to make better decisions. Once the property settlement agreement is signed, it will essentially become a part of the divorce decree and it cannot be changed at a later date except in certain very limited circumstances.

How an Attorney Can Help

The process of distributing property in DC can be difficult to navigate, especially while simultaneously dealing with the emotional upset that a divorce often involves. A compassionate and capable property division lawyer can simplify the process for you. Your lawyer can tell you what to expect with regards to how the court will react and can make sure that you have the knowledge needed to make informed decisions. Contact a qualified lawyer that is not afraid to advocate for you.