Property Division in Alabama Divorce a Question of Assets and Liabilities

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jun 09, 2011 | 0 Comments

A recent article by The Huffington Post lays out the extreme case of a couple who was divorced in 2006, but are again back in court because a large portion of the husband's assets were invested with Bernie Madoff, while the wife took her share in cash. After the Ponzi scheme came to light, the husband has since sought to rescind the settlement, claiming he should get half of the cash the wife got when they split their assets evenly.

Hiring an experienced Birmingham Divorce Lawyer can help you avoid post-divorce judgments. Making sure documentation is properly filed and spouses are properly severed from debts, such as joint credit cards, home loans and car loans, can limit a souse's liability in the future.

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The Huffington Post article points out that every divorce settlement is based on an estimation of the value of assets. If someone got divorced five years ago and was allowed to keep a house that was worth $250,000, but gave the other spouse an IRA worth $250,000 but now the house is worth $85,000, it's possible that the spouse in the house could try to get the case opened again. They could argue that they were deprived of the value they thought they were getting five years ago.

What is far more common is that one party defaults on a joint liability after a divorce settlement, leaving the other party exposed to collection efforts. If you and your former spouse are on a bank loan for a house, for example, the bank doesn't care what your divorce agreement says. In most cases, it's best to severe such joint relationships before finalizing a divorce — though the economic downturn has made that difficult in some cases.

Jefferson County marital property agreements must be properly reviewed, especially in cases where spouses come to an agreement on the split of assets. Even if you think you can handle the complex process of handling an uncontested divorce on your own, you should make sure a trained lawyer reviews the final divorce settlement before it becomes official. Making sure you are legally removed from documents, such as a home loan, can help you avoid these types of financial hardships in the future.

Remember, a divorce is a civil decision that has little bearing on lenders and credit card companies. If both spouses' names are listed on a house that is an asset divided as part of a divorce but both names still appear on the loan and the spouse awarded the house lets it go into foreclosure, both spouses could be on the hook and take a hit to their credit.

Identifying marital assets is another area that can be challenging — particularly in cases where one spouse was the major wage earner and kept track of the family's finances. As this case illustrates, valuing assets is another area of potential contention

For example, valuing the marital home at its purchase price, instead of its current market value, could leave one spouse with an asset on paper than in reality is nothing more than the liability that comes with an upside down mortgage and a house that is worth less than what the bank is owed.

If you need to speak with a divorce lawyer in Birmingham, contact Eversole Law at 205-981-2450 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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