U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Property Distribution

NCJ Number
Juvenile and Family Court Journal Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Dated: (1991) Pages: 27-38
L G Arthur
Date Published
12 pages
States may follow three basic approaches in property distribution among divorced couples: deeming all property community property unless proven otherwise; making equitable distributions of the property; and following common law to award each party property in his or her name.
Property distribution settlements must be based on fair valuations, consider non-monetary contributions, and unambiguously and finally settle all property affairs. Courts generally do not provide property distributions for unmarried couples unless a contractual aspect of the relationship can be proven. The doctrine of equitable distribution allows the court to do justice between the affected parties without necessarily treating them equally. Some factors to be considered include homemaker services, special conditions or needs of a party, relative earning capabilities, duration of the marriage, and balance with spousal maintenance. No-fault divorce statutes, settlement agreements, and prenuptial agreements have all impacted the ways in which property is distributed. Nonmarital property is excluded from that which is distributed. Dissipations and protection of children are special issues that can impinge on property distributions. The value of property must be determined by experts; distribution in kind is generally more workable than selling all the property and dividing the proceeds. Courts can use contempt, receiver appointments, and restraining orders to enforce a property settlement. Property distribution decree changes are rare and used only under special circumstances. 142 notes