Is Utah a Community Property State?

The division of property is a major part of an divorce. Figuring out who gets to keep which assets can be a major headache and can make an already stressful situation much worse. The way that property gets divided during a divorce depends on whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state. Which one is Utah? To find out, continue reading as the Salt Lake City divorce attorney from Overson & Bugden explain how property division works for couples that are getting divorced in Utah.

Equitable Distribution of Property in Utah

In the United States, there are two systems of property division for divorcing couples: equitable distribution and community property. Utah, like most other states in the United States, is an equitable property state, which means that each spouse receives a reasonable and fair portion of property. Community property states divide property and assets evenly without consideration for factors like age, health, and income.

With a system of equitable distribution, courts take a variety of factors into account so they can divide property in the most fair manner possible. Note that the most fair way possible is not always the most even way possible; equitable distribution does not always mean a 50-50 split of property to each spouse. According to the system of equitable distribution of property, a spouse that earns significantly less money than the other may be awarded more of the assets and possessions.

Marriages that have lasted a long time are more likely to have an even 50-50 split of property than short-term marriages since it’s easier for short-term marriages to be restored into the economic condition they had before the marriage.

When judges decide on a property division that would be fair and equitable, they weight the following factors: the age and health of the spouses (this makes a difference in their ability to earn and their potential medical expenses), the length of the marriage before separation and divorce, the job each spouse has, and the income each spouse earns.

The Difference Between Marital Property and Separate Property in Utah

Equitable distribution affects only martial property, not necessarily all of the property that you and your spouse own. Utah does not have clear-cut definitions for marital property and separate property, which can lead to confusion and frustration during divorces. As a general rule, courts typically determine that property owned by a spouse before the marriage and gift or inheritances received during the marriage are not considered to be marital property.

Why Prenuptial Agreements Matter in Utah

Whether or not a couple signs a prenuptial agreement in Utah makes a difference in the way that their property and assets get divided when they get divorced. The following information can be used by couples to understand how prenuptial agreements work in Utah, what happens if prenuptial agreements are not signed, and what can be included in prenuptial agreements.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements in Utah

Prenuptial agreements (also known as “prenups” or “premarital agreements”) are a way for married couples to outline the way their assets and property will be divided in the event that they get divorced in the future. Prenups can include agreements on the way real property like land and houses are treated, but can also include how personal property like furniture and jewelry will be divided between each spouse. Prenups can also include agreements on pension plans and 401k plans.

If a couple gets divorced and they have a prenuptial agreement, their property will be divided according to what the prenup dictates. However, there are cases in which a court must intervene anyway. Prenups can’t include stipulations about child support, health insurance for children and the cost of childcare so, if children are involved, a family law attorney may be needed. If the divorcing couple has not signed a prenup and they can’t divide their property among themselves, the court will divide their property according to the system of equitable distribution.

What Can Be Included in a Prenup

In Utah, prenuptial agreements can include provisions for any of the following: each spouse’s rights and obligations regarding their property (property, according to Utah Code § 30-8-2(2), is essentially any real or personal property, including income and earnings), each spouse’s right to buy and sell their property, how property should be handled in the event of divorce or death, how spousal support or alimony can be modified or terminated, how life insurance policy benefits should be transferred in the event of the death of one spouse. Couples signing prenuptial agreements can include almost anything else they’d like, as long as it does not violate any public policies. Note that prenuptial agreements cannot include any stipulations pertaining to the couple’s children. A prenuptial agreement cannot be enforced if either party did not voluntarily agree to sign it or if the prenup was fraudulent at the time that it was executed.

Who Should Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

Nearly any couple can benefit from signing a prenuptial agreement, but some couples can benefit from them more than others. It is recommended that couples sign prenuptial agreements if the aggregate value of their assets exceeds $50,000, the couple owns a business together or one spouse is employed by the other, a spouse anticipates receiving an inheritance, one spouse intended to pursue a degree with financial support from the other spouse, or one or both spouses have an annual salary that exceeds $100,000.

Salt Lake City Divorce Lawyer for Residents Across Utah

Divorces are extremely painful and stressful. On top of emotional struggles, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you’ll get to keep the assets you worked hard to obtain. When going through a divorce, use the help of a skilled divorce lawyer to make the division of property as easy and straightforward as possible. Get in touch with the Salt Lake City divorce lawyers from Overson & Bugden to learn more about dividing property during your divorce. Call (801) 758-2287.