Property Division in a Divorce

RSA 458:16-a is the New Hampshire statute which sets out the principles which a Judge is to consider when deciding how to divide the property between the parties in a divorce. The statute is long, but the basic concept is that an equal division of the value of the marital assets is ordinarily to be considered fair, but there are factors which can justify an unequal property distribution.

The first task in dividing up the marriage’s property is to get a full and complete inventory of the property. The marital property is anything and everything in which one or both of the parties has any interest: that means real estate, personal property, retirement accounts, vested inheritances, debts, businesses, anything of present value (and some things of contingent value). The law obligates each party to provide a complete and truthful financial disclosure under oath.

The factors which can support an unequal property distribution are many, but include: the length of the marriage, the ability of each party to earn an income (age, health, occupation, skills, needs), future opportunity to acquire financial resources, the childcare responsibilities, actions by a party to increase or decrease the assets, contributions to the marriage or to the other’s career, inherited property. Adultery, extreme cruelty, or acting to injure health or endanger reason can be a consideration, if it caused the breakdown of the marriage and substantial emotional pain or economic loss.

There are, therefore, many potentially relevant factual issues in a contested property distribution. In practice, however, some are more persuasive than others. Experienced counsel knows how to best present the facts, what tends to work, what tends to not work, and potential outcome. At the Nashua law firm of Winer and Bennett, LLP, you will have the services of legal counsel who knows the reality of this process, something essential whether your case is concluded by settlement or has to be presented to a Judge for resolution.