Equitable Distribution is a just a fancy way of saying “dividing up your possessions.” Everything that you and your spouse (or civil union partner) have acquired during the marriage is “subject to equitable distribution.” There are a lot of nuances to this discussion, such as property which you owned before the marriage, which may be “premarital property,” or property that grew during the marriage that you had before it started, such as a 401(k) Retirement Account for a job you started long before you met your spouse but continued working in long after. If you or your spouse receive stock as compensation, that can complicate matters. Then there are all types of retirement and pensions for public employees such as policemen and firemen, military, federal, etc. An experienced attorney should be able to shed some light on these issues which continue to change over time based upon new case law and statutes at both the state and federal level.
In making an equitable distribution of property, the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
a. The duration of the marriage or civil union;
b. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
c. The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
d. The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
e. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
f. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
g. The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union;
h. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
i. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
j. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
k. The present value of the property;
l.The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;
m. The debts and liabilities of the parties;
n. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children;
o. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
p. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Disclaimer: This information is no substitute for consultation with an experienced matrimonial attorney. This information is applicable in the State of New Jersey.