In our previous post, we began speaking about property division here in Arkansas. As we noted, courts in Arkansas use an approach to property division known as equitable division, the goal of which is to divide marital property fairly between parties. What exactly does equitable or fair mean, though?
Determining how to reach a fair division of property is not a cut and dry matter, and judges have significant discretion in reaching a decision. Although state law prescribes a one-half division for each party, judges are permitted to come up with a different division in the event that dividing down the middle would not result in an equitable outcome.
Arkansas’ property division statute identifies a variety of factors that judges are to take into consideration when judging the fairness of any given division of property. These factors include:
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, health and occupation of each of the parties;
- The sources and amount of income of each party;
- The vocational skills and employability of each party;
- The value of each party’s estate and liabilities; and
- Each party’s overall financial need and opportunity for acquisition of assets and income.
Judges will also take into consideration the contributions each party has made to the couple’s marital property, including services rendered in the rearing of children and care for the home. Also relevant is the federal income tax consequences of any proposed division of assets. In cases where a party would be unreasonably burdened by tax obligations association with an asset, such as a home or a business, a judge may opt to find an alternative arrangement.
These, of course, are not the only factors judges can take into account, but they are certainly important factors. Because judges have a significant deal of discretion when making property division decisions, it is important for parties to divorce to work closely with an experienced advocate to protect their rights and advocate their interests throughout the process.
Findlaw, “Arkansas Marital Property Laws,” Accessed Nov. 21, 2015.
2010 Arkansas Code; Title 9 – Family Law; Subtitle 2 – Domestic Relations; Chapter 12 – Divorce and Annulment; Subchapter 3 – Actions for Divorce or Alimony; § 9-12-315 – Division of property.