While most people expect that they will have to divide marital assets with their spouse in the event of divorce, the process of determining what is a marital asset and reaching an equitable division can be very complex. As family law attorneys serving clients in Rhode Island, we will guide you through the process from beginning to end.
Rhode Island has a very broad definition of marital property. Marital property includes all property acquired during your marriage, with the exception of most inherited assets and certain gifts. Businesses, real estate, savings accounts, pension plans, 401(k) accounts and even inheritances, under some circumstances, may be considered marital property and subject to division under our equitable distribution rules. Property you owned before your marriage such as retirement may be considered separate property and is generally not subject to division.
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital assets will be divided in an equitable manner — which is not necessarily 50-50. A court may determine that a 40-60 or even a 30-70 division is equitable in your case. Judges will consider 12 statutory factors to determine what is equitable. Among those factors are the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the contribution of each party to acquisition and preservation of assets during the marriage, contribution as a homemaker, and issues of conduct such as dissipation of assets by gambling or other destructive behavior.
If you have significant assets or if you or your spouse is a high-wage earner, going through a divorce is likely to be a complex process. The sooner you discuss your situation with a lawyer, the better prepared you will be. High net worth divorces often involve assets that require an expert’s help to value. Examples of marital property that will need to be evaluated and divided include:
Professional practices (medical, dental, accounting, legal, etc.)
Sometimes, retirement accounts
Even if an asset is titled in only one person’s name, it will be considered a marital asset in Rhode Island if it was acquired during the marriage. It may also be considered an asset if acquired prior to the marriage.