Who Gets What in a Divorce? This Is What You Need to Know

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Are you wondering who gets what in a divorce? If yes, you should check out our guide right here on the key things to understand.

Getting through a divorce is difficult, but after all’s said and done, the question of who gets what still lingers. Regardless of what you own, be it cars, jewelry, homes, or even pets, you must divide it between you and your former spouse when you divorce. 

With a 40 to 50% divorce rate in the country, the question of property entitlement has been a hot topic for many years. Ultimately the decision of who gets what in a divorce lies in the hands of the court or between the couple. However, there are lots of factors that come into play before the court makes an amicable decision.

A 50/50 split isn’t plausible, because what exactly defines 50/50 becomes the bone of contention. If you’re thinking of getting a divorce, here is all, you need to know about divorce settlements. That way you can know what to expect from the court and decide whether to proceed with the divorce

Who Gets What In a Divorce?

Before the court can decide what spouse gets what in the divorce, it first separates the marital property from separate property. As the name suggests, marital property is the property you acquired during the marriage, either together or by one spouse. 

Separate property is also known as non-marital property. This is the property you acquired before marriage and thus only belongs to a single spouse.

What defines separate property varies from state to state, but generally, a few examples of separate property include:

  • Everything you owned before the marriage
  • Any inheritance during or after the marriage
  • Gifts
  • Property that both parties agree in writing is separate
  • Property acquired through separate personal asset

Major Concerns Divorce Settlement

In any divorce, both parties have to discuss the following topics for their divorce settlement. There are no set guidelines in discussing these topics since no two divorce cases are the same. Somehow, you and your spouse must resolve these topics, or the court has to do it for you.

  1. Child Support – child support is a very sensitive topic, and in most cases, you’ll need a lawyer for arbitration
  2. Assets and Liabilities Division – You only have to discuss marital property; separate property isn’t up for discussion
  3. Alimony – This is also a very contentious discussion, and you’ll probably need the help of your attorney

As to what you’re entitled to, it’s very difficult to tell because there are no set rules to determine who gets what. So it rests on you or the court to ultimately determine what each party gets in the divorce settlement.


Alimony has a lot of names from spousal support to spousal maintenance. Things can get pretty thick with alimony, since your spouse may believe you are entitled to nothing. It’s also contentious if both parties can’t agree on a fair alimony amount.

In most divorce settlements, alimony is where most couples disagree. First, divorcing couples aren’t exactly on good terms. Plus, it seems unfair for one spouse to make payments for someone they don’t look eye-to-eye with in the first place.

However, the rule of thumb is that after the divorce, both parties should roughly have the same living standards. This does leave the better-off spouse disadvantaged.

When you and your spouse can’t seem to agree, then you can consider settling on a divorce mediator to help you reach an amicable decision. That way, the mediator can help you reach a decision that suits both parties.

Child Support

If your marriage ended prematurely without kids, then you don’t have to talk about child support. Child support ensures that the divorce has no economic implications on the children with either spouse. Child support is in the best interest of the children but is still very contentious.

How you determine child support varies from state to state. A free online child support calculator can give you a ballpark figure. However, in most cases, your children will actually be entitled to more. 

States can either use the Melson formula, the income model, or other guideline models to determine the child support amount. You also have to work how you’ll take care of other expenses that fall outside child support.

Marital Property and Debt

In most states, the courts have their hands tied as to who gets what when it comes to marital property. Most court decisions premise on equitable distribution, which takes into consideration a lot of factors to facilitate the fair division of marital property.

However, if you can reach an amicable decision, you can decide who gets what in most states. Apart from sharing the material property, you also have to address how you’ll share any debt between the two of you. This leads to the question of who gets the house and who pays off the mortgage.

The Marital House

If you bought the house during the marriage, then you have to decide who gets the house. The court takes into account a lot of factors to determine who gets the house. House ownership is a complex affair and largely depends on your specific situation.

If the mortgage is more than the house’s value, then couples may sell the house, then split the remaining debt between them. You can also both be co-owners of the home and put it up for rent. Lastly, one parent may take over the home and take care of the kids in the home.

You probably want to know how to keep your house in a divorce. If you owned the house before the marriage, then the chances are that you’ll retain your house.  However, you can still retain ownership of a house you bought during marriage if the court rules in your favor.

Get an Attorney for Your Divorce Property Division

The question of who gets what in a divorce has no definite answer. However, if you can reach an agreement, then you can easily decide who gets what. If you can’t, then the court will decide for you.

In whatever case, it’s always a good idea to have a lawyer by your side when making crucial decisions. That way, you can get a fair divorce settlement to cushion you from the rough divorce.

For more informative reads, have a look at our other articles today.


About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524

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