One of the more contentious parts of a divorce is often the property division determination. Having a basic understanding of how the courts view division during divorce can help parties negotiate this process. The process is a creature of state law, so this piece will focus specifically on the division of property during a divorce in Nebraska.

First step: Label the property.

The state will generally label all property as either marital or separate property. Marital property generally includes any property purchased during the marriage. In contrast, separate property is property owned prior to the marriage. There are some exceptions. If kept separate from marital property, an inheritance or gift could remain separate even when received during the marriage.

A premarital agreement, or prenup, could include additional exceptions.

Second step: Divide.

Nebraska is an equitable distribution state. This means the courts attempt to split the property in a fair manner. It is important to point out that fair does not always translate to equal. Instead of a 50/50 split, the court takes a variety of factors into consideration before making a determination. This can include the contribution each party made to the relationship, the health of the parties and either party’s future earning potential.

Third step: Draft settlement agreement.

Finally, the parties will draft and sign off on a divorce settlement agreement. This agreement will outline the division of property as well as other terms of the divorce. It is wise to have an attorney draft this document on your behalf, as a legal professional can better ensure it is tailored to your situation and mitigate the risk of any surprises in the future.