Equitable distribution is the distribution of property and debt obligations used by courts in most states when dividing marital property during divorce proceedings. Equitable distribution does not mean “equal” division, it means “fair” division.
Are Non-monetary Contributions Considered as Equitable?
In Indiana, statutory law requires judges deciding a property division case to account for the non-monetary contributions of both spouses to a marriage when determining how to divide property between them. This usually means that the court will consider the value of the labor a stay-at-home spouse contributed to the marriage. Spousal non-monetary contributions can include activities such as:
- Household chores
- Child care
- Supporting their spouse professionally
- Lawn care
- General maintenance
- Bookkeeping and budgeting
- School activities and extracurricular activities
- Chauffeuring and errand running and event/vacation planning
- Religious guidance
- Family counseling
Often, non-monetary contributions to the marriage are considered as grounds for awarding a larger percentage of the marital property. Thus ensuring a more equitable distribution of property acquired during the marriage.
Is Economic Misconduct in Considered in Equitable Property Division?
The State of Indiana allows courts to legally consider any form of economic misconduct of a spouse as a factor in determining an equitable property division in the divorce. Economic misconduct generally means how assets assets are used. Economic misconduct is the legal term for how marital funds or assets are either wasted or lost by a spouse through means of economic misconduct. Forms of economic misconduct include:
- Excessive spending
- Destruction of property
- Spending marital income in an affair
- Fraudulent sale of property
Essentially, if a spouse is found to have used marital funds in a way that somehow injured the other spouse, then the court may take punitive or restorative action by awarding a higher percentage of the property distribution to the injured spouse.
Are Education Contributions Considered for Equitable Distribution?
Indiana has no statute requiring courts to consider a spouse’s contributions to their partner’s education or earning capacity when determining the equitable distribution of marital property.
Do Prenuptial Agreements Affect Equitable Property Division?
A prenuptial agreement, or pre-nup, is a binding legal contract signed by both spouses prior to getting married in Indiana. A prenup containing a property division agreement can take precedence over Indiana’s property division laws by establishing what is considered as marital property versus what property is considered as separate, as well as how finances will be structured during the marriage and how finances are divided if the end result of marriage is a divorce or even an annulment in certain situations.
The existence of a valid prenuptial agreement can prevent an Indiana court from having full reign to determine how assets are divided between the spouses, and instead allow them to be divided in a way agreed to by both spouses prior to the event.
How are Equitable Property Division Orders Enforced in Indiana?
An equitable property division order in Indiana is a court order that is issued by a judge, that describes how property is to be divided between the spouses after a divorce. Property division orders are a binding legal obligation. Failure to comply with the terms of the equitable property division order by either spouse can result with the offending spouse being charged with contempt of court.
If You are Looking for an Equitable Distribution in Your Divorce
If your spouse is not complying with a property division order or if you believe that an equitable distribution is in order and you want your fair share of the marital assets, you can consult an Indiana family lawyer at 317-677-7169 to discuss possible legal remedies as soon as possible, before it’s too late.