Equitable distribution means the division of both assets and debts and is a statutorily created. It was traditionally limited to married couples, but now applies to Civil Unions as well, but has not been to date extended to statutorily to Domestic Partnerhsips.

Equitable disbituion is intended to divide property and debt “equitably” that was acquired during the course of the marriage or civil union. It does not matter whether the property or debt is titled in one or both parties names as long as it was “acquired” during the marriage. Although when equitably disbtirubitng assets and/or debt, the norm is to do so equally, that is not always the case. It is important to remember that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.”

Our Courts have established a three step process to analyze what property should be distributed and in what percentages. Those steps include 1) determining whether a particular asset is subject to be distributed; 2) what the value of that asset is; and 3) what allocation each party is to receive. Courts are required to consider sixteen factors, which include:

  1. The duration of the marriage or civil union;
  2. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
  3. The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
  4. The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
  5. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
  6. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
  7. 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;
  8. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  9. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
  10. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  11. The present value of the property;
  12. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital civil union residence and to use or own the household effects;
  13. The debts and liabilities of the parties;
  14. The need for creation now, or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children; and
  15. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1.

While all factors must be considered by the Court, they are not necessarily weighted equally. Gourvitz & Gourvitz, LLC can handle all your equitable distribution needs and navigate you through these unchartered waters.