What factors does the court consider to divide marital property?

There is a long list of factors, such as the ages of the parties, the value of the community estate, the extent of separate property owned by each spouse, fault in the breakup of the marriage, and others listed below. In general, the court is likely to begin with a 50-50 division of marital property and then modify it as the circumstances warrant.

  • Length of the marriage
  • Either person's prior marriages
  • Each person's age, health, station, income, vocational skills, employ ability, estates, liabilities and needs
  • Contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • Opportunity to acquire future income and assets
  • Sources of income, including medical, retirement, insurance and other benefits
  • Services rendered as a parent, wage earner or homemaker
  • Value of each person's property
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Tax consequences of the distribution
  • Custodial parent designation

A common misconception of divorcing parties is that the court can somehow order the other party to pay more money than he or she has. No matter how badly the extra money may be needed, the judge cannot order a person to pay more than he or she has available.