How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Utah?

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When a divorce petition is presented to the court in the state in which a couple resides, a 50/50 split of assets isn’t always guaranteed. In the case of a separation, the state won’t require former spouses to split their assets evenly during a divorce.

Several different types of assets will be divided during the divorce, and in turn, a couple undergoing the divorce process will need to consider how each of these matters will be handled. Once a former couple settles their disputes and responds to the divorce petition, assets will be distributed accordingly.

The following article is a brief overview of how different assets may be divided during a Utah-based divorce case. For more information on the subject, consult a local expert like the Stacy Schmidt Law Firm who understands how local laws may impact your unique case.

Non-marital property


Assets that aren’t shared with the other partner can be reclaimed after the marriage has disintegrated. A partner who holds a bank account in their name or signs a car title in their name will be deemed the owner of that particular vehicle or account. Personal property that wasn’t purchased during the marriage or that hasn’t been shared with the other partner will be retained.

Premarital or Postnuptial Agreements


The courts in Utah will be well-versed with the legislation, agreements, policies, and procedures in place that will determine the division of assets and how the process unfolds. If these agreements are lawful, they’ll be executed by the court.

If you believe that your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is unfair, was signed under duress, or has been unlawfully changed, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Otherwise, there will be no way for you to modify the agreement once the grace period has elapsed.

Real Property


Real property includes any physical land, buildings, or homes. When you’re trying to divide your assets, you’ll need to determine how the property was purchased and if it’s shared. Anything that was purchased during the marriage could be split-up by the court. Distributing the assets might involve selling the property or home and splitting the profits, as defined by the court.

Note that real property might also include property that belongs to a business managed by both spouses involved in the divorce proceedings. Before the divorce was initiated, you may have drafted a contract that outlines how the business will be managed in the event of a divorce.

Unfortunately, however, if you were blindsided by the divorce and did not foresee your marriage collapsing, you might not have included a stipulation of that nature in your company contract. In this case, the courts could rule that a business needs to be dissolved or divided by both parties because real property is involved.

Personal property


Personal property is anything that you can be easily relocated to a new location. This might include an asset like a car. For a quick, clean-cut, you’ll need to verify that the vehicle wasn’t purchased with community funds. When you and your partner have mutually purchased these assets, you may need to divide them during an arbitration or settlement hearing.

If you believe you’re entitled to ownership over an item of personal property because you owned these items prior to the marriage, you’ll need to document every instance. In a best-case scenario, a couple might also agree to split up the property amicably before the divorce is filed. This division of property will be documented in writing when the divorce is filed. You should store this documentation in your personal residence to use in the case of unexpected disputes.

The other partner might want to take certain items out of the house before an agreement can be reached. It’s best to snap pictures or record video footage to catalog all these items that are claimed prematurely. It might also be necessary to keep serial numbers and sales documents pertaining to the item to boost your chances of securing the personal property.

Retirement plans


Retirement plans are divided based on a formula that’s been preset by the state of Utah. There are a number of married folks who don’t understand how this process works, especially when they spend their marriage operating under the impression that they can simply keep their retirement account. However, according to Utah law, the bread winning spouse must divide their retirement account with their stay-at-home counterpart.

Hypothetically, if the employed half of the relationship has a retirement account with a balance of $100,000, that number will be divided based on two factors: the length of the marriage and the number of years that were worked will be used. As a first step, you’ll cut the balance of the account in half, resulting in a $50,000 total. Then, you’ll multiply that number by the number of years worked. If the couple has been married for 10 years, that totals $500,000. That figure will be divided by the same 10 years of marriage, meaning the other spouse in question will receive $50,000.

Can couples come to an agreement on their own?


Yes, couples can reach an agreement on their own terms if they have written and agreed to the divorce petition. The couple can submit that paperwork to their lawyer, and the lawyer will add that information to the divorce documents.

If the state accepts the aforementioned documentation, there won’t be any trouble. However, the court will refer to the guidelines listed above when maneuvering divorce proceedings with a couple that’s battling for assets such as real property and personal property.

Prepare for divorce


When you’re preparing to get divorced, you’ll need to list all of your personal property, review any agreements that have been made during the marriage, and consider any property that will be discussed during the divorce proceedings.

Don’t be surprised if your personal property is removed from the home. To avoid any other surprises from popping up, as a proactive measure, the couple should calculate how a retirement account will be divided. If you haven’t taken the initiative to divide your retirement funds, you may find yourself struggling during the filing process.

Reach out to an attorney today


Because you’re not a legal expert, you should contact a lawyer to assist you with the divorce process. When you present information pertaining to the division of property assets to your lawyer, you may need to do additional work to help the divorce come to fruition.  

You should also remember that most former spouses who are pursuing divorce will be able to reach an agreement beforehand. If you can agree on matters such as child custody, child support, and alimony before going to court, you can rack-up significant savings. If not, the state will make these decisions on your behalf, which can extend the length of your divorce proceedings.

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