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How must you divide property when you divorce?

If you and your spouse intend to seek a Wisconsin divorce, you may have heard that Wisconsin is a community property state, but not understand what that means.

FindLaw explains that in Wisconsin, as in any other community property state, you and your spouse must equally divide all the property you earned, purchased or otherwise acquired during your marriage when you divorce. The only exception to this 50/50 rule is the situation in which neither of you contests the divorce.

Marital property

You and your spouse’s community property a/k/a marital property falls into the following three broad categories:

  1. All income either of you received during your marriage, including salaries, wages, interest, dividends, capital gains, retirement accounts, etc.
  2. All real and personal property you acquired during your marriage and for which you paid using income earned during your marriage
  3. All debts either of you acquired during your marriage, including mortgages, loans, credit card debt, etc.

Keep in mind that it makes no difference which of you actually earned the money, bought the property, or acquired the debt.

Separate property

Also keep in mind that only your and your spouse’s marital property must be divided 50/50. Your respective separate property remains exactly that, yours and yours alone. Separate property includes such things as the following:

  • The property and assets you owned prior to your marriage
  • The property you received as a gift during your marriage
  • The property you received by inheritance during your marriage
  • Any property you acquired after becoming legally separated

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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