Attorney Browne has successfully helped clients understand who has rights over property in accordance with New Hampshire law.
In addition to dissolving the marital bond and making orders concerning placement of children, courts are also required to identify and distribute the divorcing parties’ interests in the assets they have accumulated throughout their marriage.
Who Has Rights to The Property?
Property acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered non-marital property. Any property acquired after and or during the marriage by either spouse is considered property of the marriage or marital property.
Generally speaking, all property acquired by either spouse during a marriage is subject to the court’s power to divide equitably, irrespective of source, contribution or title. The fact that one spouse worked one or two jobs during a marriage, while the other remained home to raise children, does not work against the homemaker spouse in property distribution.
Property I Owned Before the Marriage
Assets earned prior to a marriage are generally not subject to division (unless the parties have routinely used such assets, like in marital home or a trust fund) which use can sometimes alter the nature of a premarital asset. However, courts will generally make a disproportionate award of the remaining assets, after off setting to the spouse any such pre-owned asset.
The equitable distribution theory by definition means that the courts will attempt to divide property fairly. They begin with the premise that an equal distribution is equitable, particularly in a long term marriage. In a short term marriage (one or two years without children) the courts find it easier to return to each party the property they brought into the marriage and will often do so absent other considerations.
Who Is Responsible for Any Debt?
Of course with the good comes the bad, and someone must pay for the mortgages and other encumbrances that may be associated with a particular asset. There is no mathematical formula for doing so, and the courts will often look to each party’s earning capabilities, income, education, and child support obligations to try to fashion a fair order on debt responsibility. Courts cannot alter the relationships which parties created with their creditors prior to divorce, and in some fashion one party or the other must pay such bills. It is an unfortunate reality within the divorce process that many persons (not unlike our federal government) routinely overextend themselves through secured and unsecured credit during a marriage and many find themselves forced to pursue bankruptcy relief during or after a divorce. Our practice is structured so that you have experts available at all phases of the process. Unlike many “specialists”, we have significant experience in federal bankruptcy law, and in criminal law, which are often involved in the emotional turmoil of a divorce. We are a “one stop shop” and can competently address almost all issues and client needs in a divorce situation.