Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in Arkansas
Arkansas is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to property division in the dissolution of a marriage. Parties to a divorce have the ability to personally divide their property by a signed settlement called a Marital Separation Agreement or a Property Settlement Agreement, which the judge must approve.
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement on their own, however, the judge will make an equitable distribution of the property and debt. Equitable distribution means a fair division of property based on each party’s particular circumstances. Arkansas law presumes that a couple’s marital property will be split between them 50-50, but several factors may lead a judge to change to unequal distribution.
First, though, the judge will determine what is marital and non-marital property. Non-marital property is kept by whoever brought it into the marriage. Non-marital property includes inherited property, gifts to only one spouse, and proceeds from a worker’s compensation claim.
Once the judge determines what is non-marital property, he or she will make an equitable distribution of the remaining property. There are several factors the judge will consider when making a distribution of property. Some of these factors include:
- The length of marriage
- The occupation of each party
- The vocational skills of each party
- The age, health and current stage in life of each spouse
- The amount and sources of income
- Employability for each spouse
- What each party contributed to acquiring and preserving marital property
- The federal income tax consequence of the proposed property division
Before dividing any property, the judge typically uses a discovery process requesting each party provide pertinent information that will allow the judge the ability to determine what distribution of property is equitable or fair in each particular situation.
While the judge has several factors he or she must consider when dividing property, the judge still has discretion when dividing property, awarding spousal support and determining child custody. If you are considering divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss presenting your case to the judge regarding the distribution of your property and other legal considerations.