In making its determination, the Court first must decide which assets are subject to distribution. Sometimes, dividing assets and debts is straightforward. The distribution of an interest in a small business, commercial real estate, or restricted stock options can be complex and contentious.
Assets that are pre-marital or received as an inheritance raise difficult issues that need careful attention. Once defined, the distributable assets and debts are allocated to the parties with consideration given to the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties.
- The income or property brought to the marriage by each party.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- Any written agreement made by parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement or property distribution.
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective.
- 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.
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other.
- 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.
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each.
- The present value of the property.
- 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.
- The debts and liabilities of the parties.
- 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.
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.