Equitable distribution is the division of marital property and debt. This includes everything purchased or earned by the parties during the marriage. All income by either party during the marriage is presumed to be marital, and so, all property purchased and accounts which have been built up are presumed to be marital as well. This also applies to any debt taken out during the marriage. Even though only one party may be contractually liable, the debt is presumed to be marital.
Before dividing the marital assets, the court must first determine what is marital property and what is individual property. Individual property is that property the parties brought into the marriage which they owned prior to the marriage and individual gifts and/or inheritance which either party may have received after the marriage. Neither party has rights to property that was received by the other separate party from the marriage relationship. In some circumstances, separate property may have become mixed with the property of the other party or with marital property. If it became so mixed that it would be impossible to determine which portion is individual property, then the property would become marital and be split evenly between the parties along with all other marital property
Fair Division of Marital Assets
The court will seek to divide the marital property in such a way as to preserve as much of the value of the property as possible. Sometimes, the court must order something to be sold in order to be able to split equally the marital property. This may result in a sale price significantly lower than what may otherwise be had. Because of this, it is always recommended that the parties attempt to come to an agreement regarding the division of the marital assets