Dividing Assets After a Divorce: Does Each Party Always Receive Fifty Percent?

When assets are being divided as part of divorce proceedings, you might expect that the division will be fairly equal (unless a prenuptial agreement is in effect). The division of certain material assets can be a matter of compromise, which your legal representative (usually family lawyers in the case of a divorce) can negotiate. For example, you might give up your claim for ownership of a certain item in exchange for the entire ownership of another possession of a comparable value. But to a certain extent, this is all fairly logical. You might think it's logical that both parties will emerge from the divorce proceedings with an equal fifty percent of all assets. This is not always the case. In which circumstances might the court give one party a higher proportion of the assets?

How the Division of Assets Might Be Determined

In instances when there is not an equitable division of the marital assets, it can be because the court has made a decision based upon the future needs of one of the parties. There are numerous factors as to why this can be the case. This decision essentially relies upon an assessment of each party's future financial potential when viewed in conjunction with the specifics of the marriage. But what will be considered?

  1. Was one party the primary earner, and if so, was the other party's earning potential compromised as a result of other circumstances (such as opting to become the primary caregiver of any children)? This covers both the financial and non-financial contributions each party has made to the marriage.
  2. Will one party have primary custody of the children? This means that they will have additional financial responsibilities and the division of assets can reflect this.
  3. Did the marriage affect the future earning capacity for either party? For example, did becoming the primary caregiver make it difficult for them to obtain further education and training, or did it have an impact upon a prior career trajectory?
  4. Are there any shared financial liabilities for which either party will be required to have an ongoing responsibility for, and if so, what is their ability to meet these responsibilities?
  5. And, of course, the length of the marriage will be taken into consideration.

If you should disagree with the decision of the court, you can, of course, discuss the matter with your family lawyer. They will be able to break down the ruling for you and can also advise you if you should wish to appeal the division of assets.