Wisconsin is a community property state, which means that all assets inside of the marital estate are divided evenly in a divorce settlement. For instance, if your spouse bought a house during the marriage, you would likely be entitled to half of its value. Of course, you may be entitled to a portion of the home even if it was originally separate property if certain criteria are met.
When separate property becomes community property
Separate assets may become community assets if joint funds are used to maintain them. For example, if funds from a joint account are used to maintain a house that you bought before getting married, the home may become a community asset. The same might be true if you used joint funds to maintain a car or restore a piece of art that you purchased prior to getting married.
Appreciation may be a joint asset
Appreciation in an asset that takes place during a marriage may be a joint asset. Let’s assume that a home worth $100,000 before you got married is now worth $200,000 days prior to the start of divorce proceedings. You and your spouse may be entitled to a portion of the $100,000 in the property that was accrued while married. The other $100,000 would be exempt from property division proceedings as it was acquired prior to your wedding date.
Taking a proactive approach to a divorce settlement may make it possible to determine whether an item is a separate or community asset. Purchase records, bank statements and other evidence may help you prove that an item should be exempt from being divided in a settlement. Conversely, it may help you prove whether you deserve a portion of an asset’s value because it is a community item.