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When Splitting Your Assets 50/50 May Be “Fair,” But is it Best?

There’s a famous story divorce lawyers like to tell about splitting an orange. There are two people who want the same orange; it’s split in half, which seems fair to each of them, but both walk away disappointed. It turns out that one person wanted the rind to extract orange zest for baking, and the other wanted the fruit for its juice. Though half and half seems fair, it wasn’t what either of them would have wanted if they’d been asked.

There’s a lesson there that applies to assets. While 50/50 seems fair, it might not work out best for any individual couple. In a typical marriage, there’s a house and other assets, and some of those assets are more easily made liquid than others.

If a couple goes to court, the judge may try to split assets as close to 50/50 as possible, even if it means liquefying assets that are more valuable if left alone. It could be that this couple, in negotiations, could agree to something that might not be an equal division, but suits their needs and is satisfactory to each party.

If you have a special case where the best way to “split your orange” isn’t to split it in half, you should talk to one of our lawyers about how to proceed. There are creative solutions possible to assure that you can get what you want, but you’re far more likely to find it at the negotiating table than in court.