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HOW DOES THE COURT DECIDE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION

Previously I discussed the factors the Court is required to review in setting an alimony award. When it comes to Equitable Distribution there are also factors the Court must address in making its decision. The goal of Equitable Distribution is to come to a fair and just division of marital assets.

In determining an appropriate allocation for Equitable Distribution the Court may consider:

a. The duration of the marriage or civil union;

b. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;

c. The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;

d. The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;

e. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;

f. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;

g. 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;

h. The contribution of each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;

i. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;

j. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;

k. The present value of the property;

l. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;

m. The debts and liabilities of the parties;

n. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children;

o. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and

p. Any other relevant factors which the court may deem relevant.

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

In coming to a decision the court is not supposed to follow a mechanical application to these factors. Rather, the analysis should be sensitive to the equalities in a particular case.

So it is very important when putting your case together that you and your lawyer review each of the factors closely and make your points to the judge. Do not just accept a 50/50 split if you are the party who deferred achieving career goals or have child rearing responsibilities which will prevent you from returning to the workforce while your former spouse's career continues to flourish or there are medical reasons why a 50/50 split would not be fair and just. Make sure your lawyer and the judge know those facts.

Remember, providing your lawyer with the facts that address these factors will enable him to better represent your interests.

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