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Nine Essential Facts About the Equitable Distribution of Property Standard in Divorce

Equitable distribution of property is the standard used by courts to determine the way assets are to be distributed during divorce proceedings. Because of the importance of the equitable distribution of property standard, it is important for a person heading into divorce proceedings in most states to understand what equitable distribution means. There are nine essential facts you need to know about the equitable distribution of property standard in divorce proceedings.

  • Basic definition of the equitable distribution of property standard
  • Most states use the equitable distribution of property standard
  • Community Property is the other standard
  • Equitable division applies to debts as well
  • Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution
  • Factors commonly used by court in applying equitable distribution standard
  • Marital misconduct is not relevant in application of equitable distribution of property standard
  • Prenuptial agreements impact equitable distribution
  • Importance of legal representation
Basic Definition of Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

Equitable distribution of property means that the assets in a divorce should be divided between the spouses in a fair and just manner. This does not mean that assets will be distributed precisely equally between spouses. Rather, a fair and just division of property is contingent upon an examination of the facts and circumstances found in a particular case.

Most States Use the Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

The vast majority of states in the United States use the equitable distribution of property standard in ascertaining the manner in which assets are to be divided between spouses in divorce proceedings. Rather than list all of the states that use this standard in divorce proceedings, it is easier to enumerate the jurisdictions that do not apply equitable distribution in dividing assets:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
Community Property is the Other Standard

States that do not utilize the equitable distribution of property standard utilize the community property standard. Via the community property standard, the presumption is that assets should be divided 50/50 between the spouses in divorce proceedings.

Equitable Distribution Applies to Debts as Well

In addition to the division of assets, the equitable division of standard is used in regard to the distribution of debts accumulated during the course of a marriage. In other words, debts are divided between divorcing spouses in a manner that is deemed fair and just under the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

Only Marital Assets are Subject to Equitable Distribution

Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution in divorce proceedings. What are deemed to be separate assets are not divided between divorcing spouses. Marital assets are defined as all property or assets acquired by a couple during the course of their marriage. The manner in which certain property might be titled generally is irrelevant to classifying it as a marital asset.

Factors Commonly Used by Court in Applying Equitable Distribution Standard

While equitable distribution is determined on a case-by-case basis, there are some common factors that typically are used in dividing assets during a divorce using this standard:

  • Presence of children in a marriage
  • Whether one spouse provided primary support for the other
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age of spouses
  • Legal financial obligations imposed on a party during divorce
Marital Misconduct is Not Relevant in Application of Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

Allegations of marital misconduct are not relevant to the manner in which the assets and debts of a marriage are divided between divorcing spouses. In other words, the equitable distribution of property standard does not call for the use of property or debt division as a means to penalize a spouse for some type of alleged misconduct.

Equitable distribution of property is the standard used by courts to determine the way assets are to be distributed during divorce proceedings. Because of the importance of the equitable distribution of property standard, it is important for a person heading into divorce proceedings in most states to understand what equitable distribution means. There are nine essential facts you need to know about the equitable distribution of property standard in divorce proceedings.

  • Basic definition of the equitable distribution of property standard
  • Most states use the equitable distribution of property standard
  • Community Property is the other standard
  • Equitable division applies to debts as well
  • Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution
  • Factors commonly used by court in applying equitable distribution standard
  • Marital misconduct is not relevant in application of equitable distribution of property standard
  • Prenuptial agreements impact equitable distribution
  • Importance of legal representation
Basic Definition of Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

Equitable distribution of property means that the assets in a divorce should be divided between the spouses in a fair and just manner. This does not mean that assets will be distributed precisely equally between spouses. Rather, a fair and just division of property is contingent upon an examination of the facts and circumstances found in a particular case.

Most States Use the Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

The vast majority of states in the United States use the equitable distribution of property standard in ascertaining the manner in which assets are to be divided between spouses in divorce proceedings. Rather than list all of the states that use this standard in divorce proceedings, it is easier to enumerate the jurisdictions that do not apply equitable distribution in dividing assets:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
Community Property is the Other Standard

States that do not utilize the equitable distribution of property standard utilize the community property standard. Via the community property standard, the presumption is that assets should be divided 50/50 between the spouses in divorce proceedings.

Equitable Distribution Applies to Debts as Well

In addition to the division of assets, the equitable division of standard is used in regard to the distribution of debts accumulated during the course of a marriage. In other words, debts are divided between divorcing spouses in a manner that is deemed fair and just under the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

Only Marital Assets are Subject to Equitable Distribution

Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution in divorce proceedings. What are deemed to be separate assets are not divided between divorcing spouses. Marital assets are defined as all property or assets acquired by a couple during the course of their marriage. The manner in which certain property might be titled generally is irrelevant to classifying it as a marital asset.

Factors Commonly Used by Court in Applying Equitable Distribution Standard

While equitable distribution is determined on a case-by-case basis, there are some common factors that typically are used in dividing assets during a divorce using this standard:

  • Presence of children in a marriage
  • Whether one spouse provided primary support for the other
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age of spouses
  • Legal financial obligations imposed on a party during divorce
Marital Misconduct is Not Relevant in Application of Equitable Distribution of Property Standard

Allegations of marital misconduct are not relevant to the manner in which the assets and debts of a marriage are divided between divorcing spouses. In other words, the equitable distribution of property standard does not call for the use of property or debt division as a means to penalize a spouse for some type of alleged misconduct.

Prenuptial Agreements Impact Equitable Distribution

If parties to a divorce entered into a prenuptial agreement before marriage, that contract will have precedence over how assets in a marriage otherwise would equitably be distributed. In simple terms, provided a prenup is deemed legally enforceable, that agreement governs asset division in a divorce.

Importance of Legal Representation

The division of assets and debts tends to be one of the most complicated and contentious element of divorce proceedings. This reality underscores the importance of retaining a skilled, experienced divorce lawyer.

As a parting thought, a typical divorce attorney will schedule an initial consultation an no cost to a prospective client. You can obtain additional information about the equitable distribution of property standard during a preliminary appointment. If you have a question concerning equitable distribution, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for an initial free consultation.

Prenuptial Agreements Impact Equitable Distribution

If parties to a divorce entered into a prenuptial agreement before marriage, that contract will have precedence over how assets in a marriage otherwise would equitably be distributed. In simple terms, provided a prenup is deemed legally enforceable, that agreement governs asset division in a divorce.

Importance of Legal Representation

The division of assets and debts tends to be one of the most complicated and contentious element of divorce proceedings. This reality underscores the importance of retaining a skilled, experienced divorce lawyer.

As a parting thought, a typical divorce attorney will schedule an initial consultation an no cost to a prospective client. You can obtain additional information about the equitable distribution of property standard during a preliminary appointment. If you have a question concerning equitable distribution, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for an initial free consultation.

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