When a married couple divorces, they need to consider how to divide their marital property. The court will make the ultimate decision about dividing property, but the couple or their attorneys can discuss an amicable way to accomplish the division. It can be the most emotionally difficult part of obtaining a divorce.
Property for purposes of a divorce includes not only real estate, but also jointly purchased assets such as cars, businesses, jewelry, stocks, investments, and more. Generally the courts assume that assets should be divided equally between spouses, but the ultimate decision on how to divide property often takes into consideration a number of factors. These factors may include financial and other contributions to the partnership, means and needs for the future, age, disability, and length of the marriage.
If one partner is substantially better off than the other or if other factors dictate, the court may order one spouse to pay maintenance, also called alimony. When deciding the amount of maintenance, the court weighs the above-listed factors and others. When determining whether a spouse should pay child support as part of the divorce, the court takes into consideration the child's needs, the income of both spouses, and the family's standard of living.
Spouses who own property together should determine whether they own it jointly or as tenants in common. If a joint tenant dies, the other tenant becomes sole owner of the property through a right of survivorship. In contrast, tenants in common may leave their ownership interests in the property to other people. If one tenant in common dies, the interest passes to their heirs – not the other tenants in common. In a divorce, you may wish to convert a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common to avoid the risk that your spouse dies before you finalize the divorce decree. You may instead wish to sell the property or buy out your spouse's interest. These are all issues to discuss with your spouse, your attorney, and the court.
If one or both spouses own part of a business, the court will consider the value of the business in dividing property. For example, liquid assets and future business growth factor into its value. Spouses who co-own a business may need to dissolve the company or, as with real estate, may want to buy out the other spouse.
To find out more about divorce law in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.