Divorce Terminology: Equitable

Divorce Terminology: Equitable

As children we are taught to split the candy or the drinks in half—equally; as adults we have a constant pursuit of equal rights for those around us who need access to the same amount of resources as others. In divorce, we have what is equitable, but that doesn’t always mean equal.

Equality brings to mind the idea of the same percentage of something, like equally dividing debt or property. When people divorce, the judge strives for a fair distribution of resources. A person may believe this means half of whatever is being divided, but judges look at the entire picture to determine if this is truly equitable, fair. 

Joint debt, for example, may seem like an easy split, 50/50, right? The judge looks at employment and differences in pay because one spouse may not be able to take on the burden as easily, like a spouse who sacrificed education or a career in order to bear more of the burden of caring for children and the home while the other provided the paycheck and insurance. This is a perfect example of weighing what is truly equitable. 

Another example would be that of property distribution. Property is the biggest source of stress and contention for divorcing couples. The claim to who gets the house obviously is a top priority. If one spouse purchased the property, it does not seem fair for the other spouse to gain the property. 

The divorce process may leave some feeling relieved once they realize that “equitable” isn’t necessarily equal, others may be angry. Wherever you fall in the process, be sure you know common language used in divorces, and ask your attorney questions to gain understanding. Truly understanding what is happening and the lingo used can help you feel a little more in control and reduce some of your stress. It’s about to get better, and we’re here to help.