Rhode Island Property Settlement Lawyers
We Handle Marital Property Division with Your Best Interests in Mind
One complex issue that often stems from divorce cases is marital property settlement. Our Rhode Island property settlement lawyers at McIntyre Tate LLP understand the complexities of property division. We have more than 150 years of combined experience representing clients in divorce proceedings and assisting them with the resulting property division and family law issues.
Understanding Equitable Distribution Laws
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital assets, property, liabilities, and debt are not necessarily divided 50/50. Rather, if you have to go to litigation to reach a settlement in property division, the court will divide them in a manner that is considered "fair and equitable." We can assist you in understanding what this means in your specific situation and how we may be able to pursue the property and assets you wish to obtain or retain.
- Many different types of assets and property are subject to division under Rhode Island law, such as:
- 401K plans
- Retirement benefits
- Homes and other real estate
- Family businesses
Getting an accurate inventory of all assets is essential to the marital property settlement process. Our firm is also skilled at handling cases in which a spouse is suspected of having hidden assets. We enlist the assistance of forensic accountants and other investigators to trace and uncover hidden assets.
Reorganization of Marital Assets & Businesses
We utilize a range of resources and experts to ensure that a comprehensive evaluation of any professional practice, closely held business, or family-owned business venture is completed. These businesses are subject to division, and in order to get the marital property settlement that you deserve, it is important that the potential and earnings of these businesses be assessed. Our firm also assists in reorganizing assets in order to keep these businesses open after a marital property settlement is completed.
HOW DEBT DIVISION WORKS IN RHODE ISLAND
The state of Rhode Island considers debts owed to be an asset, albeit a negative one. Under its property division rules, the negative asset must be divided in a divorce, given that it is considered marital. Debt becomes marital just as any other piece of property, as in it is marital if it is first accrued while the spouses are married. If a debt is started before or after a marriage, it should be considered separate property and should not be divided between the spouses.
Property division in Rhode Island is controlled by equitable distribution rules. Do not be mistaken by the name – equitable does not mean equal. Instead, it means to divide property by what is “fair” in the eyes of the court. This equitable approach to debt division can actually be a boon for spouses who tried to be fiscally responsible during marriage.
Example of Equitable Debt Division
Imagine a high net worth divorce scenario in which Joe buys a sports car by placing it on a joint credit card shared with his spouse, Morgan. Joe, who wanted, chose, and bought the car, was the only one who drove it, as Morgan had a car to use already. While there is still $10,000 of debt on the credit card for the vehicle, the couple decides to divorce.
Even though both spouses technically own the car, Morgan never felt real ownership over it. If this can be explained to the court – and possibly backed by evidence of Morgan’s lack of use of the sports car – debt division might not be 50-50 but something along the lines of 20-80 instead. In this scenario, $8,000 of debt goes to Joe, who wanted and used the car, and $2,000 goes to Morgan, as it is assumed there must have been some benefit of owning the car for both spouses.
To discuss your case and options with a Rhode Island marital property settlement attorney, contact our firm.