Emotions run high between divorcing spouses, particularly when it comes to the division of property. Some spouses want to sell all the marital property and equally divide the profits. Other spouses are unwilling to part with certain assets because of the sentimental value they hold. If settlement discussions stall because ex-spouses cannot reach a compromise on these sentimental items, the court will ultimately have to decide, and the results can be vastly different from what either spouse expects.
What Sentimental Items are part of the Marital Estate?
Marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This includes sentimental items like works of art and photographs. Pre-marital property is any asset acquired before the wedding. That property is not part of the marital estate. During a divorce, pre-marital assets remain the property of the spouse that brought them into the marriage, although there are exceptions.
How Is Marital Property Split in Divorce?
In Rhode Island, all marital property is subject to equitable division by the court during a divorce. However, equitable does not mean an equal 50-50 split. The court can divide marital property in any way it deems fair and will look to several factors in making this determination including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The conduct of the parties (including whether cheating, substance abuse, or domestic violence lead to the demise of the relationship);
- The individual income levels and financial contributions each spouse made to the marital estate;
- The parties' education and job-related skills;
- The length of time one spouse may have been out of the workforce caring for children; and
- The health of each spouse.
Are Gifts To One Spouse A Marital Asset?
Some sentimental items come into the marriage by way of a gift or inheritance. Rhode Island law does not consider gifts from third parties to either spouse as part of the marital estate. Therefore, these gifts are not subject to equitable distribution during divorce. They belong to the spouse that received them.
Need Help With The Division of Your Marital Property? We Can Help
If you are worried about how the court will divide sentimental items during your divorce, Inman & Tourgee can help. We are seasoned Rhode Island family attorneys and have the experience to help you navigate any sticky situation. To speak with a member of the Inman & Tourgee legal team about assisting with your divorce, fill out an online contact form or call (401) 823-9200 today.