The parties usually arrive at a settlement of all their property rights after negotiation. If settlement is not reached, the matter will be decided by the court after the trial is concluded. Again, you are advised that you must be absolutely sure that you understand and accept the settlement as written or placed on the record in open court, because property settlements may not be modified, except in cases of fraud, clerical error, mistake, or gross unfairness in the initial trial. If your property includes retirement or pension plans, your attorney, upon request, will explain your rights under the qualified domestic relations order procedures.
Property settlements in judgments may be enforced by execution, garnishment, show cause proceedings, etc. Your attorney will explain these procedures to you upon request.
In determining property issues, the court will usually consider the following:
- Length of the marriage
- Contributions of the parties to the marital estate
- Age of the parties
- Health of the parties
- Life status of the parties
- Necessities and circumstances of the parties
- Earning abilities of the parties
- Past relations and conduct of the parties
- General principles of equity
- Generally, the property of the marriage is divided 50-50.