Factors Considered in Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
There are different ways of dealing with asset division during divorce. For example, some states prefer equitable distribution. Simply put, this form of asset division seeks to ensure the division is fair. Here are some of the issues considered during equitable distribution:
Value of Separate Assets
Separate assets aren't divided during equitable assets distribution, but they determine how the marital assets are divided. What happens is that the court will appraise the separate assets to determine how much each of you owns. Next, it will award a larger portion of the marital assets to the partner with fewer separate assets so that both of you end up with equitable properties.
Your Relative Health
Your health has a great effect on your wealth-generating ability, and the court knows this and will consider it during the equitable distribution of assets. Take an example where you are disabled and can't work and earn as much money as your partner, who is healthy. Giving each of you a half of your marital assets may leave you on the same footing in the present, but your assets are likely to depreciate while your partner's assets will be appreciating. Divorce courts try to avoid such imbalances, which is why they typically award more assets to those whose medical problems can affect their earnings.
Your Relative Earning Power
This is probably the most significant factor when it comes to equitable assets distribution. Say you earn only a third of your partner's income, and you are given equal portions of the marital assets. In such a situation, the division is clearly lopsided, so such a division is not practical in equitable distribution states.
Presence of Any Asset Dissipation
As you know, the goal of equitable distribution is to give you fair portions of the marital assets. There is no way the division can be fair if the partner who wasted considerable assets during the marriage is given the same portion of the marital assets as the partner who did not engage in such habits. Therefore, dissipating assets during marriage or divorce will reduce your share of marital assets during the divorce.
Your Contribution During Marriage
Lastly, the court will also consider your relative contributions to the marital assets. It is only fair that the person who contributed the most should get a greater share of the assets than their partner with minimal contributions.
As you can see, equitable distribution is not synonymous with equal division – as some people erroneously believe. As usual, a divorce lawyer like Franklin & Rapp can help ensure that the division is actually fair as the name suggests.