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3 factors that influence how a judge divides marital property

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Divorce

What happens with your marital estate will have a profound influence on your future opportunities following a divorce. The assets you get to retain and the debts that you must assume responsibility for will help to determine your standard of living and your household budget. You would probably like to have an idea of what resources you will have available for rebuilding your life, but the outcome of property division matters can be difficult to predict.

You may have heard that West Virginia has an equitable distribution rule when it comes to marital property. As a result, family law judges are bound to seek equitable or fair solutions for property division matters in every contentious West Virginia divorce. The process is largely subjective and requires a lot of information about the couple and the property they share.

To reach a fair solution, a judge needs to first consider elements from the marital relationship. What factors may influence the outcome of litigated property division proceedings in West Virginia?

Spouses’ income and separate property

What resources you already have can influence how much you need from a divorce. When one spouse has a major pool of separate property and the other has few separate assets, that can influence what a judge thinks is fair regarding their marital property.

Similarly, a large difference in earning potential can impact what a judge thinks of as fair for a couple. They may grant more marital property to someone who will have a much lower household income after divorce in some cases.

Unpaid household contributions

While it may be obvious that one spouse earned far more than the other, income wasn’t the only contribution that you made to your household. Unpaid services and other contributions to the household that increase the standard of living or decreased household expenses may also influence what a judge feels is fair for property division purposes.

Dissipation of marital property

When either spouse has made irresponsible choices that wasted resources or added debt to the marital estate, those actions can impact property division. Money spent gambling and debts accrued while conducting an affair could impact how the courts divide marital property between spouses.

When you understand what factors influence a judge’s decisions related to marital property, it can be easier to plan a strong case for your upcoming divorce hearings. Learning more about West Virginia divorce laws can help you as you prepare for a potentially contentious end of your marriage.