Delaware Property Division Factors
In Delaware, 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 Family Court within the Decree of Divorce.
Delaware is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Family 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 Family Court to be fair.
The court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute and assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the Court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: (a) The duration of the marriage; (b) Any prior marriage of the party ; (c) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties; (d) Whether the property award is in lieu of or in addition to alimony; (e) The opportunity of each for future acquisitions of capital assets and income; (f) The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker, husband, or wife; (g) The value of the property set apart to each party; (h) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the party with whom any children of the marriage will live; (i) Whether the property was acquired by gift; (j) The debts of the parties; and (k) Tax consequences. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1504, 1513)
Since Delaware 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 Delaware property division in the Delaware state statutes located at: http://legis.delaware.gov/.
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