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Protecting What Matters Most

How does equitable distribution work?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Property Division

Rhode Island residents who divorce will need to go negotiate their division of property. As an equitable distribution state, state courts focus on a fair division of property, not necessarily an equal one, although in some cases, the courts might find that dividing property equally is the fairest way.

Equitable distribution versus community property

States that follow the community property concept of property division assume that all property acquired during a marriage is owned by both spouses, regardless of who provides the money to acquire the property. Once couples divorce, that property is divided equally between the spouses. On the other hand, states that follow the equitable distribution concept have a more complex way of dividing marital property. In those states, the property acquired during the marriage is divided equitably or in a fair manner according to a set of factors.

Factors affecting the equitable distribution

Before deciding how to divide marital property under the equitable distribution concept, courts will examine a group of factors. These include:
• The health condition of each spouse
• The level of education and work opportunities for each spouse
• The financial situation of each spouse, including earnings and spending habits
• The reason the couple decided to get divorced

An exception to marital property

There is some property that will not be included when couples divide their marital property. This property, known as separate property, includes any property acquired before the marriage, inherited or established as separate property under the prenup or postnup agreement. There is also property that might be more complicated to divide since part of the property would be considered separate property and part of it would be considered marital property. An example of this is a home bought by one spouse before marriage whose value has increased due to the improvements made with marital funds.