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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Distribution of Property

Term Definition Distribution of Property - the apportionment of marital or community property upon a divorce or legal separation.
Application in Divorce In divorce, distribution of property, child custody and visitation and support issues can be the three minefields that divorcing couples must cross to be uncoupled.

In a divorce where no children are involved, the distribution of property is probably the largest stumbling block. When this is finished, the couple memorialize the distribution in the marital settlement agreement. Unlike child support, the distribution of property is final.

In the United States, there are two general models of property distribution: all property and dual classification. In the all property routine (also called the Kitchen Sink states), courts divide equitably any and all property of the parties "regardless of when and how acquired." In dual classification states, property is classified marital and separate. Dual classification states then are further classified as either equitable distribution or community property.

Basically, in a divorce, a couple must divide what they own and what they owe. The distribution of property is the allocation of assets and the liabilities.

Depending upon the state where the divorce happens, the laws governing this are either are either equitable distribution or community property. Each jurisdiction has its own application of these two general schemes of property division.

Problems in the distribution of property happen when spouses become selfish or unreasonable or use property distribution as a way of punishing each other or getting even.

Some divorcing couple can reach agreement by themselves, and these people are fortunate since they save money and emotional wear and tear on themselves. Courts will approve property distributions that are fair and reasonable, and as a rule a settlement that the couple hammers out will probably be better than one imposed upon them by a third party.

In large marital estates this distribution can be very difficult, and the services of divorce consultants are sometimes used.

See also Equitable Distribution; Community Property.

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