Equitable Distribution Factors

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What is Equitable Distribution of Property in a Divorce?

Equitable distribution of property in a divorce refers to the way that property is split up between spouses who are undergoing divorce.  This can include real property such as a home, as well as other assets such as bank account funds.   Equitable distribution principles aim to achieve a “fair” and comprehensive distribution of the property.  Several factors may be considered in jurisdictions that allow for equitable distribution in a divorce.

This is set in contrast to more traditional legal concepts for distribution of property in a divorce.  For instance, the more typical shared/separate marriage property usually divides shared property 50/50 between the parties (this is property that is accumulated as a couple during marriage).  This can lead to some discrepancies and inaccuracies in the way that the property is distributed, as it can be difficult to determine who actually owned which assets during the marriage. 

Thus, equitable distribution of property may be employed in some cases, depending on whether state laws allow for such rulings.  Equitable distribution is different from “equal distribution” which is different concept typically involving 50-50 splits of benefits such as employment or retirement benefits. 

What are Some Equitable Distribution Factors?

When equitable distribution of property is applied in a divorce, the court will analyze many different factors involved in the couple’s relationship.  This is what makes the process different from most community property rulings.  Rather than relying on strict formulas for dividing the property, equitable distribution factors are analyzed.  These may include:

The over-arching theme that unifies all these factors is the legal idea of “fairness”.  For instance, the court may organize the distribution of property in such as way that would avoid the “unjust enrichment” (accidental windfalls, etc.) of either party.  This helps ensure that the distribution of property is favorable considering the circumstances of the divorce or legal separation. 

Lastly, instances of marital misconduct usually don’t form the basis for equitable distribution evaluations.  On the other hand, misconduct that involves criminal fraud or white collar fraud may play some role in the distribution of property. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Equitable Distribution Factors?

Reviewing equitable distribution factors can be a very complex and involved process.  You may need to hire a lawyer for help with equitable distribution principles in a divorce ruling.  Your attorney can help you uncover the various factors that will help provide a more comprehensive, overall picture of the way that the property should be divided during the divorce.

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Last Modified: 03-19-2013 03:41 PM PDT

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