Dividing your property is one of the most important decisions you will have to make when ending your marriage. For most couples, much of their property is entangled together, or one partner helps the other manage and invest their inheritances, gifts and property they owned before marriage. To be prepared for your divorce, here is what you need to know about marital property division in Iowa.
What is marital property?
Any assets that a couple acquires while married, including executive compensation and retirement accounts, are marital property. Similarly, all the debts and liabilities gathered during your marriage are community property. Alternatively, anything you owned before marrying your spouse is separate property; the Iowa court has no authority to divide it.
If you acquire a property through inheritance or as a gift while married, it will be individual property. However, if your spouse helps you raise the value of that property, that appreciated value becomes marital property and is subject to division.
The court will divide all you own as a couple fairly and reasonably but not always 50/50. This is because Iowa is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the partner who didn’t contribute as much to asset accumulation will be awarded part of the marital property in the fairest way possible. The factors that the judge considers include the following:
- The economic circumstances of each spouse – The judge will always try to make sure that each spouse is awarded assets accordingly to get close to the life they were accustomed to in the marriage.
- The spouse who served as the homemaker – If one spouse decided to stay at home and take care of the children while the other spouse worked, the judge will consider that contribution when ruling on a divorce settlement.
- The expense and time the other spouse may need to be self-sufficient or independent – This is more common in the homemaker scenario where the other partner chose to stay at home instead of building a career.
- What each partner earned during the marriage – Since property division is meant to be fair, the spouse who contributed more often gets more.
If you are considering divorce in Iowa, take time to learn more about your marital and separate property. This will help you know what you could be entitled to so that you can prepare for the asset division process.