Is Equitable Distribution Always Equal?
The state in which you live is the one where you need to file for divorce. Unless you have lived there for less than the required timeframe (often six months), then it is that state’s laws that will dictate the procedure you should file for divorce.
There can be numerous issues that stress you out during your divorce. The top two most cited examples are child custody and finances. When a couple goes to divide up the property and debt they have amassed over the years of their marriage, things can go south pretty fast. If you live in an equitable division state, you may want to read up on how the process works so you can get an idea about what you may get when the divorce is finalized.
What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?
If your state law says that property is split equitably during divorce, then the process is not cut and dry. First, the court will determine what you owned separately. This is anything that you had in your name before you got married. The items you owned, assets and debts, before you got married will remain with you. Everything you own jointly or secured during your marriage will be put in a marital pot for splitting.
Equitable division does not mean a 50/50 split. Instead, the court examines your married life and decides who gets more or less of the assets and debts. The process of equitable division is meant to be fairer, especially for the spouses who left the workforce to care for children.
What Does the Court Consider When Splitting Assets?
The court does not just do a cursory examination of your marriage to decide who gets what. A judge will want detailed descriptions and examples of each spouse’s contribution to the relationship. The court will commonly consider:
- Who made the most money?
- Was this able to happen because the other spouse sacrificed their career?
- What was the emotional contribution of each spouse?
- Did one or the other contribute more to the demise of the relationship?
If your state allows for divorces based on grounds or reasons, then you may cite if your spouse did something wrong to cause the marriage to fail. A judge may factor this in when deciding how much of the marital pot goes to you versus your spouse.
An equitable split may find you coming out with more assets and less debt, or you may be on the other end. It is best to consult with a family lawyer to explore this and other divorce issues more fully.