Equitable Distribution in Divorce Laws

The property that spouses acquire after their marriage is termed as marital property. There are long sections in divorce laws that deal exclusively with the equitable distribution of these properties. The idea is to make the distribution fairly where none of the parties should feel at loss. The couple is generally asked to sit together and talk about it in order to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. In case no such agreement is possible, the court gives its verdict on this issue. Following are some of the various aspects associated with such cases and what the laws say about them.

Not All States Practice the Concept of Equitable Distribution

Though most states practice it, there are a few community property states that do not have any legal provisions in divorce laws for equitable distribution; these states include Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, Colorado, California, Arizona and Alaska. All these states follow community property laws that lead to a 50/50 split among both the spouses. However, in equitable distribution, the emphasis is given on the concept of fairness and equity. The property is distributed in a way that is “fair” – it may mean one spouse getting a much larger share than the other.

Who Decides What is “fair”?

If the spouses do not reach a mutually agreeable resolution, it is entirely up to the judge to decide what is fair. Considering the complexities involved in divorce laws, what the judge will decide is very difficult to predict. That is the reason in most cases couples reach their own agreements in order to avoid the “uncertainties” that are likely to be caused by the intervention of the court.

Factors That Are Taken into Account

There is an array of factors that a judge may take into account while determining a fair distribution of the marital property. If the court finds that one of the partners is responsible for the loss of a certain portion of property, another partner is likely to be offered a much larger share in an attempt to compensate him/her for the loss. The earning power of the partner is another common factor. The spouse who has contributed more in acquiring the marital property gets a larger share. However, the contribution of other spouse is also taken into consideration, even if it is non-financial terms, such as raising children and homemaking.

The Cause of Divorce

The equitable distribution of marital property also depends very much on the actual cause of divorce. If one of the partners is found guilty of committing adultery, he/she may be awarded with a severe penalty in property. Similar things happen if the separation is grounded in abandonment or abuse.

Overall, there are provisions for each and every scenario in divorce laws, when it comes to distributing marital property among the spouses.