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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Mandatory Factors (to be considered by the court)

Term Definition Mandatory Factors (to be considered by the court) - the factors a court must consider before making a final decision about property, child support and alimony.
Application in Divorce In general, mandatory factors include consideration of 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.

Mandatory factors come into play in the equitable distribution of property, where they provide a uniform starting point. Even within this, however, judges put different emphasis on different factors. Mandatory factors determine the distribution of property, which when finished is set in concrete, and child support, which is subject to changes in circumstance.

In general, the consideration of mandatory factors makes a court’s decision broader and to an extent fairer than it might be if a divorce were decided on the basis of fault.

Mandatory factors work to the protection of nonworking spouses (almost always women whose contributions to the marriage have been noneconomic).

Some jurisdictions have discretionary factors a court may consider, and these vary by jurisdiction. In at least thirteen jurisdictions, conduct during the marriage (including the traditional notion of fault) may be a discretionary factor in a judge’s decision about property, child support and alimony.

Discretionary factors are tools by which the court strives to make the settlement fair and reasonable.

See also Fair and Reasonable; Equitable Distribution.

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