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3 things women should know about property division

Now that you have decided that you are leaving your husband, you must figure out how all your property will be divided so that you know what assets you will take away from your marriage. This isn't something that is always easy to determine, but understanding Alaska's laws can help determine a possible solution to the problem of who gets what.

A prenuptial agreement matters

If you and your soon-to-be ex have a prenuptial agreement, that agreement will govern what happens during the property division process. You must pay attention to what the agreement stipulates so that you can use it as a guide for what you will seek as you divide everything.

There are some instances in which a prenuptial agreement won't be considered valid. One of these is if it contains clauses that are forbidden, such as including child support stipulations that go against the law. Also, if you or your ex were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the agreement was signed, it can be invalidated.

Some property doesn't have to be divided

Not all property has to be divided in a divorce. There are some types of property that are considered individual property and which is retained by the rightful owner if a couple divorces. An inheritance that was given to only one spouse is an example of property that won't be divided during the divorce. Money from a personal injury settlement won't likely be divided.

Of course, there are exceptions to these types of property. One occurs when individual funds were used to maintain the property. In that case, the property - or a portion of its value - might be considered communal in the property division.

Is Alaska a community property state?

The answer to that question is "it depends." Here in Alaska, a community property regime is optional. Spouses must specifically enter into such agreements or establish community property trusts. Otherwise, it is not an automatic designation.

You and your ex can work out an agreement

You don't have to turn to the court to decide who gets what. You and your ex can go through mediation to determine how the property will get divided.

Before you step into the session, be sure that you are prepared. You should know which assets are being divided and what assets are protected. You also need to know about debts, since those will also need to be divided. Before you start the negotiations, make a list of what matters are negotiable and which ones have a little wiggle room. This gives you a good starting point for trying to get the settlement that puts you on the best footing possible.

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