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  4.  » What makes property division contentious?

Few personal processes are more complicated than divorce. This process involves people, their feelings and fears, and their joint assets, and few people come out happy.

Most divorces also involve contentious property division of marital assets. These are the reasons these divisions are so challenging.

The process is emotional

In divorce, at least one partner may feel incredibly hurt, sad or afraid. These feelings make the process more complicated. For example, your former spouse may fight hard for the house or finances out of fear. In addition, you and your ex probably have emotional memories associated with many of your joint possessions. Anger could also play a role in dividing financial accounts and other assets.

Equitable distribution is not always equal distribution

Some courts divide marital assets based on equity rather than equality. One partner may receive the family home because that person also has primary custody of the children, while another may receive higher monetary assets despite earning much lower wages during the marriage.

Even if you and your spouse do agree on a division plan, the judge needs to approve it. The court’s goal is fairness. However, neither party may feel as if the division was fair.

Separate property is not divided

You and your former spouse likely had some assets before you got married. These assets are not typically subject to division. Therefore, if you had significant assets prior to your marriage and you did not accumulate many assets during the marriage, you retain your assets. This can be especially challenging if your home is separate, not community property.

To reduce contention in your asset division process, keep a thorough list of your separate and communal property along with each asset’s value. Then, negotiate to determine ownership. Keep an open mind and consider your former spouse’s positions.