Equitable Distribution

In order to divide marital property, you must first:

 

Identify the marital property:

 

Marital property includes all property acquired by both parties during the course of marriage, including any increase in value of non-marital property prior to the date of final separation. Some important exceptions are as follows:

 

  • Property acquired before marriage or acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to marriage;

  • Property excluded by a valid agreement (such as a prenuptial agreement) entered into before, during, or after the marriage;

  • Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, including personal property and real property passed on through a will or handed down through the family;

  • Property obtained after a final separation, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets;

  • Property sold or disposed of prior to final separation;

  • Certain exempt veteran's benefits;

  • Mortgaged property, but only up to the amount of the mortgage; and

  • Money acquired from a lawsuit that started prior to marriage or after final separation regardless of when the money was received.

 

Value of the property:

 

If the parties cannot agree on the value of certain property, experts may be called upon to value the property.  If the property involves a business or partnership interest, a qualified accounting professional should be called upon to value the business interest or stock shares.  Likewise, when one or both of the parties have a pension, only the portion of the pension accrued during the marriage, and up until the date of final separation, is marital property and a qualified pension analyst should be called upon to determine its value.