So, What is the Marital Pot in a Divorce?
If you are thinking about a divorce or going through one, you have probably heard two terms: "marital pot" and "50/50". I am sure your friends, family, attorneys, and research have all mentioned these terms when discussing a divorce and your marital property and debts. You have also probably ran across the phrase, "the marital pot/estate will be divided 50/50" - sounds simple right? Well, that phrase is not entirely correct because Indiana's statute presumes the marital pot/estate is to be divided equitably, not equally. Equal means 50/50 while equitable means fair.
So, what is the marital pot? The marital pot is a pretend pot which holds all of your marital assets and debts. It does not matter if the assets or debts were brought into the marriage or obtained during the marriage, it will all go in the marital pot. The marital pot is everything the court considers when dividing the marital estate during a divorce.
Many people think because certain things are in their name, it means it is solely their property and not an asset or debt of their spouse, such as:
retirement plans, or
However, in Indiana that does not matter since everything is included in the marital pot.
The home only in your name - marital pot.
The car you had years before the marriage - marital pot.
The student loan your spouse brought into or acquired during the marriage - marital pot.
The $50,000 inheritance you got from Auntie Jane - marital pot.
The ugly expensive doll you bought at an antique store - marital pot.
The boat you titled over to your sister right before filing for divorce - marital pot.
It all goes into the pot and the Court will decide how it will be divided between you and your spouse.
In Indiana, the date you file for divorce is when the lid goes onto the pot. Filing for divorce seals everything into that imaginary marital pot. You or your spouse should not and cannot sell, dispose, destroy, transfer, hide any marital property or assets. If you do, the Court will still look at the value of the property/asset as of the date of filing. If your car had a value of $7,000 and you sold it to your friend for $500.00, the Court can, and most likely will, require you to come up with the extra $6,500; whether it means giving your spouse more of the assets or giving you more of the debt.
You are probably thinking this does not seem fair, and that is why Indiana is an equitable state. Courts can deviate from the 50/50 presumption and divide the marital assets and debts equitably between you and your spouse. Some examples of equitable division are:
you did inherit $50,000.00 from Auntie Jane, but did not commingle it with joint marital accounts. The Court can take your inheritance out of the marital pot since you kept it separate from the marriage.
Your spouse ran up a credit card which only benefited them. The Court can give your spouse the entire credit card debt from the pot.
You worked for 25 years before marrying and built up a nice retirement account. You get married and file for divorce 6 years later, does your spouse get all 25 years worth of hard earned money? Well, the Court can decide your spouse is not entitled to an equal split but an equitable split of your retirement.
The marital pot is there to protect the marital estate during the divorce process. By initially putting everything from the marriage into the marital pot, the court can make sure everything is fairly divided out between the parties at the end of the divorce process.