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Court to divide NFL team owner's property post-divorce

Many couples try to work out their marriage and, at times, even live separately for a while. However, sometimes, the relationship just doesn't work and divorce may seem like a good choice. Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, and his wife of 33 years will divorce after living apart for a decade, and the court will now handle the division of assets. If they had been living in Spokane, Washington, each spouse would automatically have been entitled to half of the marital estate under the state's community property laws.

However, published reports say that the couple has agreed that Irsay will retain 100 percent control of the NFL team, which he inherited from his father, as well as his other businesses. Child custody doesn't come into play as the couple's three daughters, who are all vice chairs of the team, are adults.

By all accounts, the split is amicable. Meg Irsay, who filed for the divorce, citing "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" as the reason, has also requested the court to enter appropriate orders for division of assets.

The Indianapolis Colts is valued at $1.6 billion while Irsay's net worth is pegged at $1.68 billion. Under the equitable distribution system, which is the law in the couple's home state of Indiana, the judge will decide what constitutes a fair and equitable distribution of their marital assets. Generally, two-thirds of the property, or about 66 percent of its value, is granted to the higher earning spouse.

Washington, along with nine other U.S. states, follow the community property principle, which says that all property and debt acquired during marriage belongs evenly to the spouses. Complicated questions often come up, such as "who gets the family house"? Sometimes a loan is made to one spouse against his or her separate property that was acquired before marriage, but the debt is used by both. The couple may wish to get legal advice when issues like this crop up.

Source: USA Today, "Colts owner Jim Irsay divorcing wife after 33 years", Mike Chappell, Nov. 21, 2013

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