Personal Injury Lawyer
Equitable division is the way some states mandate property gets split between spouses during divorce. Since separating money and property can become decisive, it helps to have a general grasp of the process. Dive into how this differs from community property laws and why it may benefit you.
State Law Sets the Standard
Each state has laws that set out the divorce process couples must follow. During a divorce, two issues are paramount to the process: dividing property and determining child custody and visitation. If a couple does not have children, then they need to only worry about resolving who gets what. Some states operate under an equal split, meaning each spouse walks away with half of the marital property. In others, equitable distribution dictates how property is handled. The two processes are distinct and require different handling and mindsets.
Not all Property Is Included
First and foremost, you must understand that not everything you own is up for grabs during a divorce. Many states refer to anything you and your spouse buy together as marital property. This includes homes, vehicles, loans, and cash. Retirement accounts started while married are included in the community pot. However, if something was owned by just one of you before you got married, and it is still only in that person’s name, it is not subject to dividing. Sole property was either already owned or knowingly acquired by one of you while married. In some instances, a spouse may purchase a home as exclusive property even while married; however, the other spouse must recognize the transaction and agree to it.
Things a Judge Considers
In equitable distribution states, judges can review a couple’s court filings for guidance in splitting property. Equitable does not mean to infer that things are going to be equal. In this type of system, the property is broken up more fairly. You may benefit from an equitable division of your marital property if:
- You did make as much money as your spouse
- Your spouse was often absent and not supportive
- You were the primary caretaker for your children
- Your spouse was responsible for the end of your marriage
A judge may look at these elements as well as others when trying to decide who gets what.
Remember that debts also get distributed equitably. Sometimes this means the spouse who makes the most money or has a substantial amount of individual assets may come out with more of the financial burden.