Sometimes ownership and control of real estate is at the heart of family legal disputes. In the case of a divorce, marital property acquired during marriage utilizing marital assets, regardless of whose name it is under is subject to equitable distribution between the husband and wife. Marital property can include real estate (including a home bought in contemplation of marriage), pension plans, vehicles, bank accounts, income tax refunds and/or household furnishings.
However, property that is inherited by one spouse and not commingled with marital assets is usually not considered marital property. If you are contractually jointly bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, a creditor can require the entire payment of the debt from your share of the marital property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be obligated to pay certain support obligations under the divorce decree that are not non-dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding or otherwise.
As related to spousal death, in certain jurisdictions being a surviving spouse does not automatically entitle the surviving spouse to acquire all of the assets that were in the Decedent’s name alone where there are surviving children of the Decedent and there is no Last Will and Testament. As an example, a surviving spouse may only be entitled to one half of the Decedent’s assets and the children of the Decedent the other half. It is to be noted that this does not mean only “children” born of the marriage between the Decedent and the surviving spouse. They include” children” born of other marriages, adopted and acknowledged persons. Further,” children” include both adults and minors.