One of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed in a divorce is the division of marital property. It can also be one of the most contentious issues. If the divorcing spouses can reach an agreement as to how to divide their property, they have the ability to put it into a written Property Settlement Agreement and submit it for judicial approval. Oftentimes, however, divorcing spouses are unable to reach such an agreement on their own. In this type of case, the judge will determine how marital property is divided. How, however, does the judge decide how the property will be divided? We will discuss more on this here.
How is property divided in an Arkansas divorce?
Arkansas is referred to as an “equitable distribution” state regarding the division of property incident to a divorce. Equitable distribution means that a court will decide how property should be divided based on a standard of fairness. An equitable division does not necessarily mean the division will be equal but should be, above all, fair to the parties in light of the circumstances. That being said, however, there is a presumption in Arkansas law that the marital property will be equally split between the parties. Factors considered by the judge in the division process, however, may merit a derivation from this presumption.
Before dividing property in divorce proceedings, a judge must first determine which property is marital and which is non-marital or “separate.” Only marital property will be subject to equitable division. Separate property will remain under the ownership of the original spouse owner. In most cases, non-marital property is property that was brought into the marriage and it will be kept by the spouse that brought it into the marriage
Once all property has been designated as marital or separate, the marital property will be divided based on a standard of doing equity. In order to equitably divide the marital property, the judge will weigh a number of different factors. Factors to be considered when determining an equitable division may include
- The length of the marriage
- The occupation and job skills of each party
- The health and well-being of each party
- The income and resources of each party
- The employability of each party
- The contributions of each party to both acquiring and maintaining the marital property
- The federal tax consequences of the proposed division of the marital property
While a judge must weigh all relevant factors, he or she also has discretion when it comes to dividing the marital property. The judge also has discretion when it comes to awarding alimony or spousal support as well as in determining child custody.
Family Law Attorney
Division of the marital property can have a significant impact on both parties to a divorce. At the Law Office of Bryce Cook, we work to ensure that your interests are not only represented, but protected throughout the divorce process. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.