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Equitable Distribution

What assets are subject to equitable distribution?

Marriage is considered a joint enterprise or undertaking. Whether you are a stay at home mom or the family’s breadwinner, your contributions are important to the marital partnership. Because of this, most assets acquired during your marriage are subject to equitable distribution. It doesn’t matter whether assets acquired are held in separate or joint names. There are certain exceptions. An inheritance or a gift to you or your spouse from a third party is not considered a marital asset if the inheritance or gift remains in the name of the party receiving it.


The following assets are typically subject to equitable distribution: real property, pensions, IRAs, 401ks, business interests, automobiles, bank accounts, stocks, jewelry, cash surrender values of life insurance policies, annuities and coin collections. This list is not exhaustive.


What does the court take into consideration when it divides marital assets?

When a court decides how to divide marital assets, it considers a number of factors such as the length of the marriage, the parties’ ages, their physical and emotional health, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the contribution by each party to the acquisition, dissipation, decrease or increase in the amount or value of the marital property, the asset’s present value, the need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects and the parties’ debts and liabilities.


Although equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution, more often than not marital assets are divided equally. Your case, however, will be judged on its own set of facts and circumstances can exist that will make an equal division of assets unfair. Here are two examples. If you have been married for a short period of time and the marital home was purchased with money you saved before the marriage, you may receive a greater percentage of the house’s value. If you came into the marriage with significant assets and the marital assets are modest by comparison, your spouse may get a greater portion of the marital assets.


Mrs. Agostini will use her 40 years of experience to ensure that the division of your assets is an “equitable distribution” of marital assets based upon your set of circumstances.


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