Consider that two people have shared roughly half their lives together; what kind of things may they have acquired? In 25 years, a married couple could acquire property, art and 401ks, just to name a few things. However, when it comes to splitting up their valuables, it can be difficult to discern what belongs to whom. Recently, a recent article discussed a family court decision that shows how state laws may dictate more than one may think.
A nearby state, Utah, recently ruled on Dahl v. Dahl, in which case a husband and wife were at odds when it came to marital property. In this case, the wife believed the husband’s asset protection plan to be marital property and subject to fair division. The husband claimed the assets in the plan to be his and his alone. The judge ruled that despite the husband’s complete control over every asset in this ‘asset protection plan,’ it was up for an even split between the couple and it was not the husband’s assets only.
In this case, although the husband may have created this ‘trust’ to protect himself from such marital property division, it backfired. The reality is that the majority of property is up for equal split between the couple. It shows that although a person may have legal control over an account, such as a trust, the state has legal control during the divorce and subsequent property division.
This can be tough news for some people to hear who are seeking control over their finances during this time of change. Keep in mind that every divorce is different and thus the assets will be interpreted and distributed in different ways.