Arkansas, like all states, follows the rule of law. That doesn’t mean the law is the same in every state. Many states may follow the same general principles when enacting their laws, but the final language of each measure is bound to vary to some extent.

So it is in matters of property division in divorce. Arkansas follows the tenet of equitable distribution of marital property. Some other states, such as California, follow the principle that marital property is community property and subject to being split down the middle when a divorce occurs. You can’t do that literally, of course, so the split has to be done based on the total value of all assets.

Regardless of form, though, where complex financial matters are involved, equitability is in the details. The more complicated a married couple’s holdings are, the more important it is that each party have the benefit experienced legal and financial counsel. Without that experience, inequity can rule. What can follow is unwanted conflict.

An example of how trouble can be avoided is offered up in the story of one California woman. Remember, California is a community property state and Arkansas is an equitable division state, but the issues involved in this instance could be common in either model.

According to the story, the woman was a month away from seeing her divorce settlement finalized when a financial planner spotted that the supposed equal split of community property wasn’t really all that equal. Under terms of the settlement, she would get assets that would be subject to taxes. The estranged husband would get assets that would be tax exempt. If the discrepancy went unchallenged, the woman might have been out $30,000 after taxes.

Where equitable division is the standard, attention to detail can be even more important. That’s because couples have a great deal of latitude in determining for themselves what they consider to be fair. Without the help of skilled counselors, trouble could follow.