For every 1000 couples in the US, about 3 couples divorce every year. From disputes about how to raise the children to devastating affairs, there are many reasons people choose to legally separate.
Yet the drama surrounding divorce often overshadows the logical side of things, including how property distribution will work after the marriage is over.
That’s where a divorce attorney comes in. Lawyers can help mediate the situation to help determine the fairest way to divide up property and debts. Divorce attorneys also keep couples from having to go to family court.
Wondering how exactly property division is determined during a divorce? Discover the answers to all your inquiries with this quick guide to equitable distribution.
How is Equitable Distribution Determined?
When a married couple files for divorce, ownership over any property acquired during the marriage will be decided by equitable distribution. This means assets– and liabilities– will be divided fairly. When it comes to equitable distribution, though, fair doesn’t always end up being equal.
Here’s the thing: US law isn’t too clear on what “fair” means. That means the definition of “fair” is up to the divorcees and their attorneys. Yet if the married couple already doesn’t agree on much, imagine trying to decide what’s considered fair equitable distribution.
During a divorce, determining the fair distribution of property hinges more upon negotiation. That’s why most divorce proceedings involved attorneys. Here’s another reason defining equitable distribution is difficult: determining divorce real estate rights.
What Defines Marital Property?
Equitable distribution only applies to property acquired during the marriage. It seems straightforward, right? Not always.
For example, imagine if you owned the house you and your spouse now live in before the marriage. When you and your spouse tied the knot, you added their name to the deed. They are now a co-owner of the home.
Now, imagine that you’d been paying the mortgage on that home for 10 years before you got married. In this case, is splitting the house down the middle fair? While your spouse might think so, you might disagree, thinking of all those payments you made before getting married.
What Happens if You, Your Spouse, and Your Lawyers Can’t Determine Property Distribution?
When the divorcees and their attorneys can’t come to an agreement about equitable distribution, the case advances to court.
In this case, it’s the family court judge who decides the definition of fair. While some couples may come out of a court proceeding satisfied, that’s often not the case. More likely, the divorcees will end up with a property distribution ruling with which one or neither of them is satisfied.
So, what can a couple do to avoid this sometimes life-altering issue of equitable distribution? Hire divorce attorneys who have expertise in mediating divorce settlements.
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