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Divorces end the marital union of two people and the commingling of their assets. Assets accumulated before the marriage, as well as assets acquired during the marriage, are subject to a division between spouses, depending on the laws of the state granting the divorce.
A prenuptial agreement may protect certain assets in case of divorce. For example, if a wife owns a condominium before marriage, she might be entitled to keep the condo after divorce under the terms of a prenuptial agreement.
Without a prenuptial agreement, the condo might be sold and the proceeds divided between the parties. In some states the parties will each receive an equal share. In other states courts award equitable shares - not necessarily equal shares. An equitable share may give one spouse more or less than half of the assets depending on a number of factors like length of marriage, conduct during marriage, contribution toward the acquisition and preservation of the assets, income, education, health, age, and so forth.
Lawyers help clients by identifying and valuing assets, and then negotiating or litigating for the best possible outcome.
Divorce courts deal with all kinds of assets such as frequent flyer miles, stock options, houses, time shares, star or celebrity status, pensions, retirement accounts, cash, saving, pets, inheritances, trusts, lottery winnings, medical licenses, family businesses, art, jewelry, antiques, guns, stamp collections and other collectibles, gifts, engagement rings, household contents (probably the court's least favorite category), cemetery plots, country club memberships, and just about every other item under the sun. Every divorce lawyer has an anecdote about one particularly nasty fight over a toaster, hammer, or other item of little or no dollar value. The fight is really about who gets the last word, not the item in question.