The Division of Complex Estates in Rhode Island Divorce

There are several challenges to handling the division of marital property in Rhode Island divorce when a marital estate is large and complex. These include:

  • Accurately valuing the assets, which may include things that are hard to value, like artwork, antiques and heirlooms.

  • Accurately assessing whether an asset is a personal asset or whether it has become, over the course of the marriage, transformed into a marital asset.

  • Assessing whether a gift was meant for one person or for the couple.

  • Understanding the degree of appreciation of an asset over the course of the marriage.

  • Understanding the tax implications of handling an asset one way or another.

When faced with these challenges, it's wise to work with a highly experienced Rhode Island area property settlement lawyer like Stephen G. Linder. With more than 30 years of experience in family law, no case is too complex; no estate too complicated. Mr. Linder has received an AV rating* in the Martindale-Hubbell peer-review rating system for legal ability and high ethical standards. You can have confidence that every detail will be handled properly.

Comingling of Assets

The longer a marriage lasts, the more likely it is that individual assets could become comingled, making it a marital asset rather than an individual asset. For example, if one spouse owned an expensive painting before marriage and that painting was displayed in the home for many years, a case can be made that it was converted to a marital asset and the other spouse may deserve to be compensated for the increase in value of the painting that occurred during the marriage.

Another example is an inheritance. If one party receives an inheritance and keeps that inheritance in a separate account, it clearly remains as separate property. But if he or she uses that inheritance to, say, purchase a family car that everyone in the family uses, then it has transmutted and the car in question is not separate property simply because it was bought with inherited funds. The family use of the vehicle has converted (transmuted) the non-marital cash to a marital asset car.

Increase in Value of Complex Asset

Typically the value of the asset is established at the time of the divorce trial. For example, each partner would receive $250,000 of the value of a vacation home valued at $500,000. But for some assets owned prior to the marriage, a spouse may be entitled to receive a portion of the INCREASE in the value of the asset during the time the parties were married. For instance, if one partner bought the vacation home for $300,000 years before the marriage, and through use, the increase in value during the marriage became a marital asset. The increase in the value of the home during the time of the marriage is the amount that is divided. In this case, each spouse gets $100,000 of the increased value of $200,000.

If you have questions or concerns about getting your rightful share of the marital estate, Providence divorce lawyer Stephen Linder will thoroughly review the history of each asset as well as help you obtain an accurate current valuation.

Tax Consequences of Property Division

The division of marital assets can have tax consequences. There may be tax carryovers from a prior year, or the tax consequences may come along with alimony, making it more advantageous to take additional property rather than spousal support.

When there are questions about the tax consequences of a particular plan for the division of an asset, we work with an accountant to ensure that all the tax consequences are known and considered before drafting a divorce settlement agreement.

The bottom line is, we will not allow your spouse to take unfair advantage of you. Whether you anticipate an easy and amicable divorce settlement or a bitter court battle, attorney Linder has the skills and experience to represent you successfully. Contact our Providence law office to schedule a consultation.

*AV, BV and CV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. The Martindale-Hubbell rating system includes two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards