Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution
Depending on the state divorcing spouses live in, property acquired during the marriage - known as marital property - will either be split equally or equitably. A handful of states, such as California and Arizona, are community property states, which means marital property is split 50-50 between spouses. However, in the remaining states, including New York and Florida, marital property is equitably distributed. This means it is divided in a manner that is fair and just, but not necessarily equal, so divorcing spouses can walk away with uneven splits, such as 60-40 or 70-30.
Hiding Assets and Statute of Limitations
Once spouses divide marital property in divorce, the terms of the property settlement are final. As a result, courts rarely re-open this portion of a divorce case, usually only doing so when there has been serious misconduct on the part of a spouse, such as fraud. If a spouse intentionally hid assets during a divorce, this may be sufficient grounds for a court to re-open the divorce case and set aside the original property settlement and substitute a new one. How long a spouse has to make this request depends on state law. For example, in Massachusetts, a claim must be brought within one year after the judgment; in Colorado, within five years after judgment; and in Wisconsin, within one year from discovery of fraud.