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New Hampshire Property Division Factors

In New Hampshire, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the Superior Court within the Decree of Divorce.

New Hampshire is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Superior Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the Superior Court to be fair.

If the court decides that an equal division would not be appropriate, the court will consider the following factors in making an award: (1) The duration of the marriage. (2) The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party. (3) The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income. (4) The ability of the custodial parent, if any, to engage in gainful employment without substantially interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of said party. (5) The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects. (6) The actions of either party during the marriage which contributed to the growth or diminution in value of property owned by either or both of the parties. (7) Significant disparity between the parties in relation to contributions to the marriage, including contributions to the care and education of the children and the care and management of the home. (8) Any direct or indirect contribution made by one party to help educate or develop the career or employability of the other party (9) The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage. (10) The tax consequences for each party. (k) The value of property that is allocated by a valid prenuptial contract made in good faith by the parties. (11) The fault of either party a if said fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and: (12) The value of any property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage. (13) The value of any property acquired by gift, devise, or descent. (14) Any other factor that the court deems relevant. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:16)

Since New Hampshire is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about New Hampshire property division in the New Hampshire state statutes located at: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/.