How are assets divided in divorce?

Divorce proceedings decide on many aspects that affect the spouses’ lives. These include many marital issues such as child support, child custody, alimony and the division of assets. Assets need to be divided in order to give ownership of possessions to each individual spouse. They cannot split assets and possessions. Therefore, they will have to give them to one spouse. When judges make their decisions, they use the concept of equitable distribution to divide assets between spouses that are getting divorced.

Equitable distribution is a concept that courts use across many states to decide on these cases. Through this distribution process, marital assets between spouses are divided in a fair and just manner. The judge will use their discretion to assess factors that influence the division of the assets. However, equitable distribution does not mean assets will be divided equally between the divorcing spouses.

What factors do judges consider?

Since equitable distribution decides a fair and just manner to divide marital assets, judges must take many factors into consideration before they make their final decision. They are aiming to provide a fair outcome for both parties involved, which is why they use equitable distribution. The judge will assess factors, such as each party’s contribution to the marital property, their health, their age, tax consequences and economic status associated with each party. After considering these factors, the judge will make their final decision on the matter, giving each spouse their own assets. Since each couple brings a different number of possessions that are valued at varying amounts, each divorce case regarding the distribution of assets can be vastly different.

Are high net worth divorces decided differently?

For high net worth divorces, there may be more assets being divided. Since individuals with a high net worth have acquired assets, possessions and debts that have given them such a high net worth, this process can be more tedious. A judge will consider all the same factors and much more. They need to take into account all aspects that are being questioned and later divided. These divorces can be impacted by prenuptial agreements, 401(k) plans, defined benefit pension plans, IRAs, restricted stock or stock options, business ownership, professional licenses, involved tax structures and planning, offshore assets, bonuses that do not vest immediately, real estate holdings and widespread investments. If a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is in place, this may help to alleviate some of the load that is being decided for distribution.

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