equitable distribution

What Is Equitable Distribution?

Equitable distribution is used by the court to properly split the marital estate between spouses during divorce. This article will discuss equitable distribution, including what it is, how it operates, and some of the important considerations the court takes into account when dividing property.

What is Equitable Distribution?

Courts distribute marital assets in divorce cases according to the legal principle known as equitable distribution. Any property a couple accumulated while they were married is regarded as marital property when they divorce. This covers not just intangible assets like investments, retirement accounts, and intellectual property but also tangible things like houses, automobiles, and bank accounts.

Property is split according to the needs of each spouse separately after the divorce, their contributions to the marriage, and their financial situations. Equitable distribution refers to the division of property in a manner that is seen as fair and just, rather than necessarily dividing it equally between the spouses.

It is crucial to understand that not every item obtained during a marriage is regarded as marital property. Separate property is property which one spouse acquires either before or after the marriage and is not subject to equitable division. Gifts or inheritances that one spouse receives throughout the marriage may also be regarded as separate property.

When one spouse requests a divorce, the equitable distribution process starts. The court will order both parties to reveal all assets and debts, including all marital property, during the divorce procedures. The court will then decide how to divide the marital property after taking into account a number of variables.

The Process of Equitable Distribution

The court will take into account a number of variables while deciding how to equitably split the marital property. These elements may consist of:

How Long the Marriage Has Lasted

One of the most important elements the court takes into account when splitting marital property is the length of the marriage. In general, the likelihood that the property will be shared evenly between the spouses increases with the length of the marriage. This is due to the fact that a longer marriage often indicates that both partners have contributed significantly to the union and the accumulation of the marital property.

There are, however, several exclusions to this rule. One spouse might be entitled to a larger portion of the property, for instance, if they made a significant contribution to its acquisition. In addition, regardless of how long the marriage lasted, if one partner is in a bad financial position after the divorce, they might get a bigger share of the assets.

Each Spouse’s Age and State of Health

The equitable distribution of property also takes into account the spouses’ ages and health. The court will take into account if either spouse has health problems or other issues that make it challenging for them to work and support themselves. One spouse can be entitled to a larger portion of the property if they are much older or need substantial continuous care due to a medical condition.

Each Spouse’s Earnings and Potential for Advancement

When splitting the property, the court will take each spouse’s income and future earning potential into account. One spouse may receive less if their income is much higher than the other’s. Furthermore, if one spouse is more likely to make more money after the divorce, they can receive a lower portion of the assets. The court may also take into account any possible earnings in the future, such as educational achievements or employment prospects.

Each Spouse’s Contribution to The Marriage

When dividing the property, the court will also take into account the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage. This can involve monetary contributions like earnings and savings as well as non-financial efforts like helping to care for the kids, run the home, or advance the profession of the other spouse. A larger share of the property may go to one spouse if they have contributed significantly to the marriage or the purchase of it.

Each Spouse’s Requirements Following the Divorce

When splitting property, the court will take each spouse’s post-divorce needs into account. As a result, if one spouse needs a specific item more urgently than the other, such as the family home, they may be entitled to a larger portion of the property. The court may also take into account any debts that either spouse may have, such as spousal or child support payments.

Any Marital Infidelity

In some circumstances, the court may take any marital infidelity into account when allocating property. This may involve unethical financial practices, domestic violence, or infidelity.

The court will decide how to split the marital estate in a way that is fair and just to both spouses after taking these facts into account. This can involve giving each spouse an equal share of the property, allocating some assets to one spouse, or selling assets and splitting the revenues.

The financial stability of both spouses following a divorce can be significantly impacted by the difficult and frequently emotional process of equitable distribution. Couples may navigate the process and make sure their rights are upheld by being aware of the things the court takes into account when distributing property. Both spouses can arrive at a fair and just distribution of marital property by working with an experienced lawyer and approaching the procedure with perseverance and diligence.

Natalie is a writer and researcher who has been supporting the legal industry with her work for years. As the Lead Copyeditor at ONE400, the nation's premier law innovation agency, she's responsible for creating original content and editing articles submitted to the website. She has over five years of professional experience writing and editing across a variety of print and digital platforms. Her work has been featured across a number of legal industry publications and sites.
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