Equitable Distribution of Property

Most states employ "equitable distribution" in dividing marital (community) property as a result of the dissolution of marriage (divorce). Instead of a strict fifty-fifty split (in which each spouse receives exactly one-half of the marital or separate property), equitable distribution looks at the financial situation that each spouse will be in after the termination of the marriage. While equitable distribution is more flexible, it is harder to predict the actual outcome, since the various factors are subjectively weighed. Factors considered in equitable distribution include:

  • Earning power of the spouses (one might be much greater than the other)
  • Separate property of the spouses (one might be greater in value than the other)
  • One spouse having done all the work to acquire the property
  • The value that one spouse contributed as the home-maker for the family
  • Economic fault of one spouse in wasting and dissipating marital property
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and relative health of the spouses
  • The responsibility for providing for children of the marriage
  • Spousal abuse or marital infidelity (to penalize the offending spouse)
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