One of the most important aspects of finalizing a divorce is dividing your property. To have a clean break from the marriage, you need to set up two separate lives, which means you need to make decisions on who will own any assets you may not own together. Each state has different ways of dividing property. Most states use equitable division.
The Wisconsin State Legislature explains this state uses community property standards when dividing assets in a divorce. Under this concept, the court will consider all property you own as marital property that belongs to each of you equally. It does not give weight to who paid for the property or whose name a title may be in.
Marital property is simply any property either of you own. However, the exception is that some assets may qualify as separate property. This is any property that you inherited or received as a gift from someone other than your spouse. In addition, you can claim an asset as separate property if you obtained it before the marriage. The key is keeping that property separate from the marital assets. The court will not divide any separate property.
Unfair division and concerns
If the court feels dividing the assets from your marriage will cause you or your former spouse hardship, it can choose to use the concept of equitable division, where it will use fairness as a guide instead of focusing on keeping the division equal.
The court may consider separate property as well. If one of you has substantial separate property, the court may decide to divide marital property in a fair way instead of an equal way to balance out the final value of assets you each receive.
The state gives the court considerable leeway about how to divide assets. It does not have a strict requirement to divide them equally if there is evidence of reasons why a different type of division would better benefit your family.