Are Assets Split 50/50 in a Divorce?

One of the most pressing concerns for a person approaching divorce is how the couple’s money and possessions will be split. Though a 50/50 split may seem fairest at first glance, real life is often more complicated then that. The process of splitting these assets — which may be done through negotiation and mediation or which may be overseen by the court — is known as equitable distribution, and it involves careful assessment of what each partner entered the marriage with, and other important factors to determine a division that will be fair to both parties.

Some elements that will be weighed when calculating the correct distribution of assets include:

  • How long the couple was married
  • Whether there are previous marriages for either party
  • How old each partner is and how healthy
  • How much each party earns
  • How the division of property will impact each party’s tax liabilities
  • What non-marital assets each partner holds
  • Whether a prenuptial agreement exists
  • Who has custody of any children of the marriage
  • Whether either partner made sacrifices or contributions to the other’s career
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Employment status or earnings capacity of each partner

Equitable distribution is calculated as a separate issue from child support, spousal support, and child custody. Assets can include savings accounts, investments, and physical property including businesses, real estate, jewelry, art, and vehicles.  Any assets or earnings attained during the course of the marriage, including monies invested in retirement plans, are considered marital and will need to be evaluated in order to calculate the total value to be split, and once a percentage of the split is calculated, each asset’s value can be weighed and offset against others based on each partner’s interests in having or keeping them. For example, if one partner wants to keep the marital home and a 50/50 split is agreed to, then that partner will need to offset their half of the home’s value by giving the equivalent value of other assets to their ex-spouse.

Some items attained during the marriage are not included as marital property. These include gifts received by just one of the partners. Similarly, property that each individual owned prior to the marriage is not considered marital property and is not included in equitable distribution: it is retained by its original owner.

Notably, marital debt is also calculated into the total value of marital property, and is also divided using the same percentage that the court or the couple agrees is appropriate.

Calculating an equitable distribution is one of the most complex aspects of divorce. For assistance, contact our experienced divorce attorneys today to set up a time to discuss your situation.