Getting a divorce is stressful on many different levels. When two lives are joined and assets are merged, there are lots of logistics to consider when splitting up. You have to make decisions about child custody and support payments, alimony, and the division of property.

Different states have their own guidelines for how property should be divided during a divorce. It’s important to understand how your state decides what is fair in the courtroom. This will help you figure out what’s realistic in your divorce settlement negotiations.

What Are the Two Major Types of Property Division?

There are two main methods states use for determining property division during divorce proceedings: community property and equitable distribution.

Community property is any property that you and your spouse acquire during the course of your marriage. Separate property is any property you owned prior to the marriage. In community property states, each person retains their separate property and community property is divided equally.

In states using the equitable distribution system, all property, regardless of when it was acquired, is divided equitably. This does not mean that all property is split 50/50. It means that different factors will be considered in distributing the property to help ensure fairness.

What Factors Go Into Equitable Distribution?

If the divorcing parties aren’t able to decide on fair terms through negotiation in equitable distribution states, the court will get involved and use several factors to decide what’s fair. Some of the factors they might take into consideration include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Contributions to the household, including wage-earning and childcare
  • The spouses’ age and health
  • Value and type of property
  • Tax implications
  • Income of each spouse
  • Living arrangements
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Contributions to the earning potential of either spouse
  • Current and future earning potential

Essentially, the court will look at each divorce situation with fresh eyes. They will look at the case from every possible angle to decide how the property should be divided fairly. The divorcing party must accept the court’s decision.

What’s the Best Way to Divide Property?

In general, it’s better for divorcing couples to work together whenever possible. Deciding on a fair divorce settlement without involving the court is the quickest way to get a divorce processed. It’s also generally a lot cheaper and involves less uncertainty and stress.

If you’re planning to get divorced in Alabama, equitable division laws apply. It’s a good idea to work with an experienced divorce attorney so you can negotiate the terms of the settlement favorably. To learn more and to discuss your case with our Birmingham divorce attorneys, call our firm at (205) 858-9224 today.