The law of equitable division is a principle that is applied for persons getting a divorce.  Equitable division seeks to provide the parties with a more complete and more fair distribution of property than traditional division schemes.  This is achieved by a consideration of a broader range of factors, including employment and income factors, medical concerns, overall asset ownership, and even skills and abilities of each person.

The more usual method for distributing property is to categorize the property into separate vs. shared property.  The shared property is usually split evenly upon divorce, while the parties retain whatever property that they owned separately during the marriage.  The main challenge with this type of distribution scheme is that it can be difficult to tell which party owned each item of property being distributed.

What is “Equal Division”?

Equal distribution is a separate legal concept and is different than equitable distribution.  Equal distribution refers to the division of property or benefits between parties that is equal by percentage (that is, a 50-50 split).  This may be applied for instance when calculating shared retirement benefits between spouses, or other circumstances.

In a sense, equitable distribution is a broader, more general approach than equal distribution.  In fact, equitable distribution doesn’t always lead to an exact, 50-50 split between the parties (as is sometimes the case with community property assets).  Instead, the distribution of property and assets is based on what the court deems to be “equitable” or fair.

When is Equitable Distribution of Property Appropriate?

For these reasons, equitable division is often an appropriate alternative in instances where child support or spousal support is going to be main issue.  In these types of cases, the court may need to incorporate the various child support needs in the property determination.  As a result, the distribution of property may reflect the position of each party in relation to the child or children.

Also, equitable distribution is dependent on the laws that govern each region.  Some jurisdictions exercise separate property distribution, while another area may enforce equitable concepts.  Thus, property determinations can sometimes be influenced by the area in which the case is filed.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With The Law of Equitable Division?

Equitable Division can sometimes be helpful for parties undergoing a divorce.  However, the actual concepts involved can be technical and complex.  You may need to hire a divorce lawyer if you need help with the law of equitable division.  An attorney can provide you with legal advice on the distribution of property, and can represent you in court during proceedings.