What is the difference between an equitable distribution state and a community property state in divorce? Once two parties get married, any property that they obtain is known as marital property. Marital property may include things such as automobiles, homes, land, furniture, cash, bank accounts, businesses, debt, and more. If the spouses want to choose how each specific piece of their marital property will be distributed between them in a future divorce in Jefferson County, it is best for them to reach an agreement. However, if this is not possible, then the marital property will be divided according to the Circuit Court judge.
The process of dividing marital property varies between each state. While the Circuit Court judge has the discretion to decide how the marital property will be divided, the judge is required to follow their state’s rules. Most states are community property states, but some states are equitable distribution states. Community property states divide all marital property equally between the parties. These states consider each spouse to be an equal owner of the couple’s total combined property even if the property was obtained separately before the marriage was entered. In these states, each spouse of the Shelby County uncontested divorce has a right to 50% of the marital property. This may seem unfair if one of the spouses entered the marriage with a greater amount of property or property with a much greater value than the other.
Equitable distribution states, however, divide marital property equitably rather than equally between the parties. Alabama is one of these states, so an equal division of marital property is possible in a Birmingham contested divorce, but it is not at all promised. Instead, the Circuit Court judge will distribute the marital property as reasonably as possible. The judge will consider many different factors like the age and health of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, or even the behavior or misconduct of each spouse. Their income will also be considered. If any improvements were made to any of the marital property, then each spouse’s contributions will be used in the determination as well as the time, money, and resources that were spent.
In equitable distribution states, any property that each spouse obtained before the marriage is considered to be separate property. Separate property is usually not considered to be included in the spouses’ marital property. The spouse that owned the separate property prior to the marriage will generally be awarded with that property in the Calhoun County divorce. However, in certain situations, separate property can be considered marital property. For example, if one spouse spent a significant amount of time, money, and resources on maintaining or improving the other spouse’s separate property like their car or an inherited vacation home, then the judge may decide that the separate property should be considered as marital property. Before leaving the distribution of their marital property up to the Circuit Court judge, spouses may want to try to reach an agreement. If the spouses can agree, the judge will enforce that agreement regardless of whether their state is a community property state or an equitable distribution state.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!