Equitable Distribution 101

Divorce Asset Division Lawyer

When you look at your upcoming divorce and consider who’s going to get what, you and your spouse might have very different ideas. No doubt you’ve both worked hard throughout the marriage, and you’ve probably both brought different assets to the table. Perhaps you bought your first home together, or maybe you each had a home when you got married and have kept them both. Perhaps you’ve each contributed to your own retirement accounts and perhaps you have a joint account you have both put money into. That’s where equitable distribution comes in.

The Definition of Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution is the issuance of assets and debts by a court. This occurs when marital property must be split among two parties during a divorce. Equitable does not mean equal, as some might assume. Instead, it means fair.

How Equitable Distribution Works

When it comes to dividing assets and debts between spouses during a divorce, fair will often look a lot different than equal. The law isn’t particularly straightforward on the exact steps to take to resolve these issues. Instead, it allows for your specific situation to be taken into consideration. The money you share, whether in a negative or positive account, needs to be accounted for completely, and a negotiation can help you get there. The following are some examples that might give you an idea of how equitable distribution works.

  1. Home Ownership – If both you and your spouse entered the marriage with a home, those homes were pre-marital assets. It might initially seem like you would each keep the home you brought to the marriage, but it could get more complicated. For example, perhaps you moved into your spouse’s home when you got married and decided to rent yours out. You took the money you made on rent from your home and put it towards home improvements for your spouse’s original home. Does your spouse have to pay you back the money for improvements? Do you just each keep your own home and move on? If you can’t come to a compromise on your own, a court will determine the equitable outcome.
  2. Debts – If you both brought $25,000 in debt to the marriage, you would have a total of $50,000 to begin with. If you worked toward paying off your spouse’s debts first, those payments may have come from your paycheck. In the divorce, does your spouse have to pay you back for those payments? Do you simply split the total remaining debt and each pay half? Do you take your $25,000 and start over while your spouse only pays for the remainder that’s left? Again, a court can decide on equitable distribution.

Contacting a Lawyer

Divorce can get tricky, but with a family lawyer by your side, you can get through it. Contact your lawyer today to learn more about equitable distribution and what you can expect to get at the end of your divorce.

Source: Divorce Asset Division Lawyer Bloomington, IL, Pioletti & Pioletti

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