Monetary Award Distribution Factors

Though marital property is distributed equitably during a divorce, that does not necessarily mean it is split 50/50. Instead, distribution is based on a number of factors, including:

  1. Monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse. Monetary contributions are obvious – income. Non-monetary contributions include taking care of the children, preparing meals, doing laundry, and cleaning, among others.
  2. The value of all marital and non-marital property interests of each party.
  3. Economic circumstances of each spouse. The court will look at whether one spouse is providing for a second family; estimated sales proceeds of joint property; nonmarital debts (i.e., debts that are not linked to the acquisition of marital property, such as income taxes); marital debts (i.e., debts linked to the acquisition of marital property, like a mortgage); liquidation expenses and tax consequences; nonmarital assets, the payments of any debts by another; and the present earning capacity of the spouses.
  4. Circumstances that contributed to the divorce. If someone was at fault for the end of the marriage (i.e., adultery), this will be factored into the amount of the monetary award.
  5. Length of the marriage. There is no rule of thumb as to what is a long-term versus short-term marriage, but a longer marriage may result in a more favorable monetary award.
  6. The age of each spouse.
  7. Each spouse’s physical and mental condition.
  8. How and when property was acquired. This takes into consideration the effort made by each spouse to acquire the marital property.
  9. Nonmarital contributions by either spouse. This factor becomes important in cases when real property was purchased using one spouse’s nonmarital assets.
  10. Any award of alimony or use and possession.
  11. Any other factor considered necessary or appropriate in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award. Courts may look at the payment of taxes, whether any nonmarital property was paid with joint funds, the ability to borrow funds or pay attorney’s fees (this must not be speculative), and receipt of Social Security benefits. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and other factors may play a factor in your case.

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