Clark & Steiner, Ltd.
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Property Division and Allocation of Assets and Liabilities

Individuals frequently acquire assets and liabilities during the marriage. The dissolution of a couple’s marriage or civil union raises various issues involving the division or assignment of the assets and liabilities between the individuals. Also, the court must distinguish between the assets and liabilities that are “marital” and “non-marital”, both of which are defined by the law. Similar to other areas within matrimonial law, the courts have significant discretion to resolve asset and liability issues (including allocation between the parties) and the resolution depends substantially on the specific facts of each case. The law governing property division frequently changes and becomes refined as the appellate courts continue to hear novel issues or issues that distinguish fact patterns of cases. As regular presenters of family law updates to the family law division of the Lake County Bar Association, Clark & Steiner’s attorneys have a good understanding of current law and trends. Further, Clark & Steiner’s attorneys have significant experience litigating complex property issues such as valuation of closely held businesses, division of complex executive retirement plans and pensions, division and valuation of complex investments, etc.

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Prior to the division of property, the court must make a determination of the character of the property as either marital or non-marital property.  All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital property.  The burden is on the spouse to prove the non-marital nature of the property.  If a spouse succeeds in proving the non-marital nature of property, the non-marital property will be assigned to the spouse who acquired it.  However, an individual’s non-marital property may impact the division of the marital property.  Clark & Steiner’s attorneys have substantial experience addressing the numerous issues involved with claims of non-marital property including but not limited to tracing non-marital assets, tracing the non-marital gains on those assets, and asserting well-grounded bases for the non-marital nature of property.    

Valuation of Property

In addition to determining its character, property must be assigned a value, including but not limited to a spouse’s interest in a closely-held business, rental property, residential property, personal property, etc.  Valuation of assets presents its own unique set of issues.  The value of an asset or assets may make a significant difference in the overall allocation of property and it is imperative you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who will engage in the requisite critical thinking when advocating issues involving valuation.  Clark & Steiner’s attorneys have a wide breadth of knowledge and experience litigating issues involving different valuation methodologies, application of discounts, unique characteristics of property impacting value, and other issues impacting value.

Other Issues Involving Property

In addition to the aforementioned, several other issues may arise in allocating assets and liabilities to achieve a fair and equitable division of property including but not limited to the methodology for dividing an asset, whether or not to divide assets in kind, whether or not to maintain joint interest in an asset for a period of time, and equalization payments.  Judgments and settlement agreements affecting property division are final.  Therefore, it is crucial to have experienced and effective attorneys on your side advocating, negotiating and litigating issues involving property division.  At Clark & Steiner, you will benefit from highly skilled, knowledgeable and creative attorneys working on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

Property Division