How to calculate a divorce settlement

Updated November 21, 2016

Calculating a divorce settlement can be as easy or as difficult as the parties want to make it. Often there are assets and liabilities that cannot easily be divided, but the parties can "trade" assets or liabilities. The easiest way to prepare calculations for a divorce settlement is to prepare a Family Law Financial Affidavit for each party and work from that. When completing your financial affidavit, be sure to put all assets and liabilities on it--whether they are in only your name, only your spouse's name or in both names. Even if an asset or liability is in only one name, it is most likely considered marital property and must be counted in the equitable distribution worksheet.

Create a spreadsheet, using Excel or another spreadsheet program. If you do not have a spreadsheet program, you can draw a spreadsheet on a piece of paper. The number of columns and rows depends on the number of assets and liabilities you have.

Label the columns "Item," "Appraised Value," "Liability," "Net Value," "Husband" and "Wife." In the "Item" column, list all assets. Under the assets, make a total line. Enter the appraised value in the appropriate column. If there is a liability attached to the asset (for example, house and mortgage), enter the amount of the liability in the "Liability" column. Subtract the number in the "Liability" column from the number in the "Appraised Value" column. Enter the difference in the "Net Value" column.

Add the "Appraised Value," "Liability" and "Net Value" columns and enter the total in the total line. Skip a row, then enter all liabilities not listed with an asset (for example, credit card's). Enter the balance due in the "Net Value" column. Add this column (for the "Liabilities" section only--do not add the liabilities listed in the asset section) and enter the total on the total line for the liabilities section.

Enter the numbers for the "Net Value" column into the husband's or wife's column, depending on which party wants to keep which asset. Total each party's column. The columns should be close to equal if you are dividing all assets and liabilities in half. If you are dividing 60/40 or 70/30, make sure the percentages total by multiplying each party's percentage by the total amount of the Net Value column. The result for each party is the number each party's column should be close to.

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the "Liabilities" section. If there is nothing to trade out to make the numbers even or to make the numbers work with the percentages you agreed to, the party with more assets than she is supposed to get should take on extra liabilities. If you still cannot get the numbers close enough, subtract the husband's liabilities from his assets. Write the difference down. Subtract the wife's liabilities from her assets. Write the difference down. Subtract the smaller number from the larger number, then divide the result by 2. The result of the calculation is the "even out payment," and is paid by the party with the higher total assets to the party with the lower number assets.

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About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.