Many divorcing couples decide how to split property and debts so the courts do not decide. However, in a contested divorce, the judge dispensing North Dakota law is the deciding factor.
There are three facts about property division spouses should think about when getting ready to head to divorce court.
1. Equitable distribution
Like most states in the US, North Dakota is an equitable distribution state. It is a process that guides courts on how to divide property gained by spouses during the marriage.
Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. The judge considers certain factors when splitting assets and debts, including:
- Length of marriage
- Spouses’ needs
- Financial contribution of each spouse
The court may then award each spouse a percentage of the property.
2. Marital versus separate property
Property in a divorce becomes divided into two groups: marital and separate. Marital property is everything gotten during the marriage. Assets owned before the marriage is separate property. Like assets, debts received as a couple becomes subject to distribution between the parties.
Both types become subject to division during a divorce. Courts divide the marital property first so spouses may keep their separate property.
3. Property division agreement
A third party does not need to decide on property division. A couple can decide on dividing property by using a prenup. The prenuptial agreement is a legal document created before the marriage. Adding a property division agreement gives the parties the right to decide and negates North Dakota’s property division laws.
The courts can redistribute the property and debts if it finds one spouse tried to hide anything or failed to follow the terms of the order.