Something we discuss with clients regularly, which I often receive with a dumbfounded look, is the issue of what is in the marital estate (or “pot”). The short answer is: Pretty Much Everything! Pursuant to Ind. Code § 31-15-7-4:
. . . In an action for dissolution of marriage . . . the court shall divide the property of the parties, whether:
(1) owned by either spouse before the marriage;
(2) acquired by either spouse in his or her own right:
(A) after the marriage; and
(B) before final separation of the parties; or
(3) acquired by their joint efforts.
This is often referred to as the “one pot” theory. Under this theory, supported by Indiana case law and codified in Ind. Code § 31-15-7-4, all marital assets are subject to the court’s power to divide and award. This includes inheritances solely to one spouse and property outside the United States. Now, that said, the specific factual circumstances relating to certain property may be used to changed or modify the presumed division of marital property 50/50 between the parties. See I.C. § 31-15-7-5 (the Court presumes an equal division of marital property is just and reasonable). However, it may consider the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, whether the property was received as an inheritance, and other factors to deviate from equal division. All is not lost.
If you are going through a divorce and need help in protecting your property, call Beeman Law.
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