How is property divided during divorce in Alaska?
If you are contemplating divorce, you have likely wondered how you and your spouse would divide your shared assets, such as your bank accounts, home, car or other items of value. If either of you have significant debts, such as credit card balances or educational loans, you may also wonder what would become of those after the divorce. When considering these issues, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the laws that govern your situation.
Alaska’s fair and equitable distribution system
Property division during divorce in Alaska is based on a system called fair and equitable distribution. This means that a couple’s debts and property should be split between them in a way that is fair when considering all relevant circumstances. While this often means splitting it equally between the spouses, in other cases it does not.
To determine what is fair and equitable during the property division process, family court judges in Alaska consider several factors. Among others, these include:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health
- The financial circumstances and earning capacity of each spouse
- When and how the debts and property were acquired
- Whether either spouse has unreasonably depleted the marital assets
In Alaska, a judge may be more likely to determine that a 50/50 split is fair and equitable if the divorcing couple was married for a substantial length of time. For couples who divorce relatively soon after marrying, a judge may be more likely to distribute their property and debts in a manner that attempts to put both spouses back in more or less the same financial circumstances that they had before marriage.
What property is subject to division?
Not all property and debts are subject to the division process described above. To determine what will be divided and what will not, it is necessary to classify all of the couple’s debts and assets as either marital or separate. Marital debts and assets are generally subject to distribution during divorce in Alaska, while separate debts and property are not.
Marital property and debts generally include those that were acquired during the marriage, while separate property and debts are those acquired individually prior to marriage. However, these lines are not always clearly drawn.
In fact, distinguishing between marital and separate debts and assets is often one of the most contentious issues that couples face during the divorce, since it can dramatically affect the outcome of the property settlement. Therefore, it is a good idea to contact an experienced divorce lawyer for help.