includes the increase in the value of any property
which one spouse acquired before the marriage or
acquired by gift or inheritance, but not the
property itself. It does not matter if the title to the
property is in the name of only one spouse.
A couple can agree to divide their property in any
way they choose. They may have the court make
the agreement part of the court order. Except in
unusual cases such as fraud, the court cannot
modify a property division agreement as long as
the parties fully disclosed their financial situations
to each other and entered into the agreement
knowingly and voluntarily.
An agreement is a good idea because it saves both
parties money, time, and aggravation. However, if
no agreement is possible, either spouse can ask the
court to divide the marital property in a fair way. In
deciding how to divide the marital property the
court will consider many factors, such as the
number of children, the parties' health, earning
capacity, education, and their standard of living.
The court has the right to give more of the marital
property to one party than to the other.
As with alimony, a request that the court divide
marital property must be made as part of the
divorce action before the court finally grants the
What about child support and custody?
Unlike alimony and marital property, child support
and custody do not have to be included in a
divorce action. These matters can be decided at
any time, and in separate court actions.
But if either party wishes, child support and
custody can be included in a divorce case. A couple
can make a written agreement about child support
and custody and then have the court make the
agreement part of a court order. If the parents
cannot agree, either party can ask the court to
decide these matters. Either party may ask the
court to modify a child support or custody order at
any time if it is in the child's best interest.
For more information about Child Support and
Child Custody, see separate brochures on th