Typically, a divorcing couple will divide their property and debts themselves.  However, if a couple cannot agree to a division of property, they can ask the courts to settle the dispute.  Courts follow state law and divide the assets either as community property or under the principle of equitable distribution.

How is Property Divided in an Equitable Distribution State?

In equitable distribution states, the assets and earnings that have accumulated during marriage are divided fairly between the parties.  The court considers many factors and will look at the financial situation that each spouse will be after the divorce to determine what division is fair.  These factors may include, but are not limited to, the earning potential of each spouse and the duration of the marriage. 

Do I Live in an Equitable Distribution State?

Every state is an equitable distribution state with the exception of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

What if I Married in an Equitable Distribution State but Now Live in a Community Property State?

Community property states will typically treat any property that was acquired in the equitable distribution state as quasi-community property.  Quasi-community property is property acquired by either spouse in a non-community property state that would have been community property had the couple been residents of a community property state at the time of acquisition.

Should I Contact an Attorney for My Divorce in an Equitable Property State?

Divorce proceedings can be very complicated.  An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine how your state’s laws will affect your divorce and make sure you receive all the assets that you are entitled to.  A family law lawyer can also represent you in court if a dispute arises.