Division of Marital Assets in a Nebraska No Fault Divorce

By Heather Frances J.D.

While Nebraska provides fault-based grounds for divorce, it also provides a no-fault ground, or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Nebraska law makes no distinction between property division in a fault-based divorce and a no fault-based divorce, since property is divided equitably between the parties regardless of whether one spouse’s actions caused the divorce.

Equitable Distribution

Nebraska courts must order property to be distributed equitably between spouses, but this does not necessarily mean an equal split. The marital assets simply must be split in a way that is just and reasonable under the circumstances. A couple’s debts are also divided equitably.

Marital vs. Non-Marital Property

Not all property that you and your spouse own is considered marital property, and only marital property is divisible by the court in a divorce. Marital property is generally all property you or your spouse acquired during your marriage. Non-marital property is property you or your spouse owned before your marriage or acquired during your marriage by inheritance or gift. Non-marital property also includes income derived from non-marital assets. For example, if you receive real estate as an inheritance and then rent out that real estate, the rental income is considered non-marital property.

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Reaching Agreement

If you and your spouse agree on property division, you won’t have to rely on the court to divide your property. A Nebraska court will likely accept a mutual agreement that includes your preference for how your assets should be distributed and order the assets to be divided per your request. If you and your spouse cannot agree about how your assets should be distributed, the court will make its own determinations based on evidence it receives in your case. It will classify which of your assets and debts are marital property, value them and then divide the net value between you and your spouse.

Court Considerations

The court considers various factors when dividing marital assets, but fault is not one of them. Factors include the length of the marriage, what each spouse contributed to the household and care of the children, whether a spouse’s career or education was interrupted by the marriage, and the ability of a spouse to be employed after the marriage ends, including any impact custody of the children will have on the custodial parent's ability to work. Often, a Nebraska court will award a spouse between one-third and one-half of the marital property.

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