Taking Action

Get Answers Start Your Divorce Stop Your Divorce Divorce Forms Online Support DivorceDesk

Divorce Tools

Online Divorce Online Negotiation Custody Tracker QDRO Preparation SEE ALL

Info Categories

Contemplating Divorce Children & Divorce Divorce, Dollars & Debt Divorce Laws Divorce Process Divorce Negotiation SEE ALL

State Resources

California Florida Illinois New York Texas SEE ALL

More Information

Articles Checklists Research Center Cases of Interest Dictionary Encyclopedia Encyclopedia (pop-up) Blogs

For Professionals

Generate Clients Free Network Page Submit Articles Case Management Sign In

The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Factors - elements in case law, court rules or statutes a court must consider before making a decision.
Application in Divorce In divorce actions, most states require a court to consider factors in determining alimony, child support and the distribution of marital or community property. Most jurisdictions require certain factors to be considered; these are called mandatory factors. In most jurisdictions, courts are also allowed to consider other elements; these are called discretionary factors. For example, in the equitable distribution of property, the length of a marriage is a mandatory factor, and judges may be more generous with a woman whose noneconomic contributions during a long marriage were chiefly homemaking and children rearing than a childless professional woman in a short marriage. On the hand, a professional woman ending a long marriage may in the court’s opinion be better positioned to resume a single life and thus less in need of alimony than a woman with small children ending a shorter marriage.

In general, mandatory factors include the length of the marriage; the age, health and occupation of the parties; lifestyle of the spouses during marriage; needs and liabilities; contributions to the marital estate; assets and liabilities; behavior during the marriage; and employability.

Courts also have latitude in the application of factors to the overarching mandate of the best interest of the child. For example, because courts try to keep children in the marital home, very often the home will be awarded to the custodial parent (usually the mother), even when this distribution may be somewhat unequal to the noncustodial parent (usually the father).

In many states the behavior of the parties during the marriage is a mandatory factor, and courts frown on economic misbehavior, such as dissipating or hiding assets.

How a court weighs and considers these factors, even the mandatory ones, is, to some degree, a matter of judicial discretion. Implicit in the idea of mandatory and discretionary factors is the recognition that one set formula cannot cover all particular situations that may arise in domestic relations.

See also Judicial Discretion; Mandatory Factors.

Add the Divorce Encyclopedia
to Your Website

The Research Center

Give Our Research Center a Try. Gain access to the same research material that lawyers often use to establish and win divorce cases. This material consists of legal journal articles and case explanation/analysis documents on a wide range of topics. If you think your situation is unique, your answers will most likely be here. In order to gain access to this area, you must establish an account, but you can search the documents before deciding.

The Divorce Source Difference

Since February 1st, 1997 (when we initially launched Divorcesource.com) we have helped millions of people contemplating or experiencing divorce. The reason we have been able to reach so many people is because we have made it a priority to listen to our customers. We have built a trust by listening and delivering what the customer needs, rather than what we think they want. This is the Divorce Source difference.

Easily Connect With a Lawyer or Mediator
Have Divorce Professionals from Your Area Contact You!
Enter Your Zip Code:

Custody Scheduling and Tracking

Easily Connect With a Lawyer or Mediator
Have Divorce Professionals from Your Area Contact You!
Enter Your Zip Code:


Start Your Divorce File for Divorce


Settle Your Divorce Negotiate Your Divorce


Track Child Custody Track Custody & Visitation

Guarantee Official PayPal Seal Facebook Twitter Versign Secure Site