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How do you divide property and debt in your Alaska divorce?

The shared assets and liabilities you painstakingly amassed as a married couple through the years are also the reasons why your divorce is now an increasingly painful process by the minute.

Marital property and debt refer to anything acquired and owed during the marriage. In Alaska, the system of dividing property – houses, lands, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement funds and other valuable items – and debt, such as loans, mortgages and credit card bills, is based on a fair and equitable distribution.

So, the court uses a specific process in handling the division and weighs relevant factors to come up with a fair and equitable decision.

Three-step process

Community property states typically split property equally. While this applies to Alaska, the state also adheres to a nuanced system of managing property division and debt through the following steps:

  • Identification: Establish which of your assets and debt are marital or separate. Separate property would be anything acquired and owed prior to the marriage. These premarital items include inheritances, gifts, Social Security benefits, military disability payments and post-divorce credit card bills as a way for either spouse to support themselves.
  • Valuation: Calculate the values of your property and debt based on fair market value. The values must be as accurate as possible right before the trial. So, you must consider how the ever-changing stock market affects your retirement accounts.
  • Division: A fair and equitable division is not necessarily a 50-50 split. Sometimes, either of you may receive less or more than 50%, depending on how the judge interprets your situation based on the following factors:
    • Length of marriage
    • Age, health, earning capacity, financial condition and other necessities
    • Whether either spouse showed misconduct regarding spending or selling marital property
    • Whether to award the marital home to the spouse with primary custody of the child or to allow them to live in it for a reasonable period
    • When and how either spouse bought or received the marital property, and its capacity to produce income during the division process

If your marriage has a substantial duration, there is a higher chance for a 50-50 division. But if you divorced relatively soon after your marriage, the judge allows you and your spouse to maintain the standard of living you had before the marriage.

Addressing the marital divide

The line in the middle of the marital divide is usually long, complex and emotional, which you, your spouse and your child must endure despite the trauma. It will be wise to have a legal representative who can work with your family to address any confusion or uncertainty and meet your goals in the most strategic way.