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The Do's and Don'ts of Marital Property Disputes

By Barry J. Roche

One of the very first rules students are taught at Law School, when it comes to a division of the matrimonial property, is that a person's entitlement is NOT a "Mathematical Calculation"! In other words, you normally can't just apply a set formula to work out what you are entitled to. Your well-meaning friends may say that you're entitled to 50%, 60% or 70%, based on what occurred with someone they know or on what this person says "is the law". If you want to know what your legal rights are, ask an legal expert - not the next door neighbour.

While the laws of matrimonial property settlement vary widely from State to Country, a court is usually required to take into account a whole range of factors in determining how the matrimonial estate should be split up. For example, the court is often bound, by law, to consider the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, property contributions before and during the marriage, the state of health of each party, any disparity in income levels, assets received by testamentary disposition, homemaker and parent contributions, a party's financial resources and so on. Each case depends on its own merits and you would be wise to seek some initial legal advice - pertinent to your marriage and your situation!

However, lawyers can be as much a hindrance as a help. They're ALL expensive and you don't want the lawyers ending up with most of the "matrimonial cake". The more emotional you are (as against being objective), the higher your legal bill is likely to be! Common sense and reasonableness, combined with sound legal knowledge as to your rights, will usually result in a better outcome for you.

Here are some things to keep in mind: