Equitable distribution describes the process that the court uses to fairly distribute all of the things that have been acquired during a marriage. Things are defined in many different terms and can be assets, debt, personal property and any other qualitative items obtained by the parties or one of them, from the date of the marriage, to the date a divorce complaint has been filed or any other date the parties have agreed upon.
Judges have broad discretion to divide marital assets, debt and other items acquired during the marriage in any manner they determine as “fair”. Fair does not always mean equal or half. It is always better for the parties to reach agreement themselves or with the assistance of their attorneys, on how they will distribute all of their “stuff” to avoid having a Judge, a random and oftentimes, overworked stranger, make that decision for them. However, if they cannot, and many times parties cannot agree whether the sky is up or down, their attorneys will prepare for trial and sometimes with the assistance of forensic experts, after all evidence is presented, leave it to the Judge to make the decision as to what each party will get upon the divorce.
To help the court, the Judge will consider the following factors in determining equitable distribution:
*the length of the marriage
*the income of each party
*the property each person brought to the marriage
*the age and emotional health of the parties
*any written agreement reached by the parties regarding the distribution of the property
*the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage
*present value of the property
and many other factors.
If you have any questions about what you may be entitled to after the divorce, contact one of our family lawyers for a consult.