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What does equitable property division mean when you divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2022 | Family Law |

There are two approaches to property division matters in an Oklahoma divorce. You can employ the collaborative approach where you negotiate your own arrangements, or you can litigate, which means asking the courts to divide your property in a manner consistent with Oklahoma state law.

Many people would prefer to retain control over the major choices in their divorces, so they create a marital agreement with their spouse, such as a prenuptial agreement. That contract between spouses will determine what happens if the couple ever divorces. Some spouses choose to negotiate with one another or through attorneys to file an uncontested divorce where they have determined their own property division matters.

What happens if you go to court to have a judge divide your belongings and debts?

 A judge must use the state’s equitable distribution rule

Oklahoma is among the majority of states in the country that use an equitable or just property division standard when couples go to court. Effectively, the judge will attempt to determine a fair and reasonable way to divide the couple’s property based on an overview of what assets they own and the circumstances of the marriage.

The separate property of each spouse, their earning potential and the length of the marriage can all be key factors for a judge trying to decide what is fair. Custody arrangements for your children, promises made during the marriage and even proof of one spouse intentionally wasting marital property through dissipation are also all factors that can influence what a judge believes is fair for your family.

Judges have a lot of discretion when resolving property division matters

Your unique family circumstances and personal holdings require that a judge take a careful and measured approach to property division decisions for you and your spouse.

Judges have the authority to order you to sell certain assets or to refinance your home to withdraw equity. They can order one spouse to receive more debt or award one person far more of the marital estate than the other if that is what they think there.

Understanding how unpredictable a judge’s property division ruling could be could help you see the value in collaborating with your spouse or agreeing to mediation as you prepare for your Oklahoma divorce.