When Property Gets Distributed Equitably Versus Equally

Family Law Lawyer

Talking to your spouse about getting a divorce is rarely easy, even if the two of you agree that it is the best way to proceed forward. With so much tension in the house spilling out into your work life and your child’s life, it may be time to move forward. Just because you agree on the move, it doesn’t mean you will agree on the issues that need addressing. You may be a believer in dividing things straight down the middle, while your spouse may see things differently and doesn’t believe that would be fair. Which way is better?

Marital and Separate Property

Fortunately or unfortunately, your state of residence will dictate how a court would ultimately split things up. One step you can take in advance is to compile a list of the property and assets you and your spouse acquired since you got married. You may not have exact numbers on assets as this includes retirement accounts, but you can get a general idea. The court is only interested in splitting marital property, which the two of you have in common. Anything owned the marriage stays with the individual. It is not calculated in the marital pot.

State Laws and Dividing Property

Some state laws prefer dividing things equally. The worth of the marital property gets tabulated and distributed evenly. Other states operate under the principle of equitable distribution. In this method, the marital assets are totaled, but the court divides things fairly, which does not always mean each person gets an equal share.

The court in deciding who gets what takes more into account than just the value of the assets and property. They consider things like:

  • How much of a financial contribution each made to the marriage
  • How much each spouse owns in premarital assets
  • How much of the child-rearing has one parent done versus the other

The judge is looking at what each party contributed to the marriage, which does not only mean financially. People who stay home for the kids may not have the financial means to support themselves or their children immediately after separation and divorce. These spouses may be given more during the equitable distribution stage. Another aspect that a court may look at, depending on state laws, is who is responsible for the decline of the marriage. If you live in a fault-based state, and one spouse is proven to have done something to cause the union to fail, a judge may award the other more in an equitable division process.

If you are overwhelmed by the process, you should consult a family law lawyer in Rockville, MD to help sort things out and explain things. You do not have to go it alone.

Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and the distribution of property during divorce.

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