Sacks Tierney P.A.

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FAMILY LAW FAQ

Financial and Property Issues

Who pays for joint expenses while the divorce is pending?  •  Can I remove my child(ren) and spouse from my health insurance policy?  •  What is community property? What is sole and separate property?  •  How will the court divide our property and debts?  •  What if the court awards property to me, but my spouse doesn't give it to me?

1. Who pays for joint expenses while the divorce is pending?

You and your spouse are equally responsible for joint expenses while the divorce is pending. If you disagree on who should pay joint expenses or debts while the divorce is pending, or if your spouse refuses to help pay the community expenses, you can file a Petition for Temporary Orders. At the Temporary Orders hearing, you can ask the court to allocate community expenses and obligations until a divorce decree is entered. Generally, courts will allocate expenses in proportion to each spouse’s income and access to community assets.

2. Can I remove my child(ren) and spouse from my health insurance policy?

Once the Petition for Dissolution is served, neither party is allowed to remove the other, or their child(ren), from their health insurance policy. The Permanent Injunction, which goes into effect upon service of the Petition, prevents you from unilaterally changing beneficiaries or removing them from your health insurance plan. Once the court enters a final Decree of Dissolution, the primary insured may remove their ex-spouse spouse and child(ren) from their insurance policy, unless the Decree requires the primary insured to continue to provide health insurance for your child(ren).

3. What is community property? What is sole and separate property?

Community property or debt is acquired after the spouses are married and before the petition for dissolution of marriage is served. Sole and separate property is acquired before the marriage, or during the marriage by inheritance or by gift.

4. How will the court divide our property and debts?

Unless otherwise agreed to in a premarital agreement, property acquired during the marriage (by inheritance or by gift) will likely be considered as community property. Likewise, any debt acquired during the marriage is community debt. The Court will divide community property and debts equitably, without taking into account marital misconduct. The court will award each spouse his or her sole and separate property.

Division of certain assets and debts can be complicated, and it is important to consult with a knowledgeable family attorney so that you are aware of the assets to which you are entitled.

For example, what if one spouse purchased a home before the marriage and the other spouse helped pay off the mortgage or make improvements to the home during the marriage? What if one spouse claims he is entitled to half the value of jewelry he gifted to the other spouse during the marriage? What if one spouse acquired a retirement account before the marriage, but contributions were made during the marriage?

5. What if the court awards property to me, but my spouse doesn't give it to me?

If your spouse fails to obey the orders of your divorce decree (e.g., fails to turn over property, fails to pay debts, or fails to sell/refinance the marital residence), you may ask the court to enforce the terms of the decree. If you can show that your spouse knowingly and willfully failed to comply with the court’s orders, you may seek a contempt action against your spouse.