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In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding family law, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.

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Marital property in New Hampshire

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How New Hampshire Divides Marital Property In Divorces

Couples who are residents of New Hampshire and are obtaining a divorce need to educate themselves regarding what types of property they must split with their spouse and what they can keep for themselves. Additionally, it must be determined who will be responsible for paying any marriage debts.

New Hampshire & Equitable Division

New Hampshire follows the equitable distribution doctrine. In the event of a divorce, property must be divided between the two parties in a manner that is equitable and fair. The split does not have to be equal, but New Hampshire courts start by assuming that the property will be split evenly among the spouses. 50-50 splits are not always fair, nor possible. For example, it would not be feasible for a couple to split a valuable painting that one spouse’s parents gave to him/her as a gift. In this scenario, one would be provided with the opportunity to explain to the court why they believed they should be allowed to keep this property for themselves. After the court has been convinced that this particular unequal division is equitable, the court will take into account a number of factors that will shift the property’s balance from one spouse to the next.

If a couple believes that they can do a better job than the New Hampshire court system in dividing their personal property, then there will be plenty of opportunity throughout the divorce proceedings to do just this. As long as a pair can work well together, then NH courts will generally accept these sorts of agreements without any further involvement on their part.

At First, It’s All Considered Marital Property

Another factor that divorcing couples in New Hampshire should be aware of is that NH state courts consider each item a couple owns (regardless of how it was acquired) to be marital property that must be split equally at the time two spouses are divorcing. Common examples of property that is to be split at the time of a divorce include the family residence, personal property (such as electronics and jewelry), and intangible benefits (such as retirement benefits, income, and debts).

In the beginning, the court will view all debts and assets as marital property. For example, credit card debt, trust or educational funds established for children, and land that a spouse acquired before the marriage would be included. If one spouse has a definite reason why the property should be assigned solely to them or why it should be divided unequally, the a New Hampshire court will consider a number of factors to determine equitable distribution.

Whether or not a reason qualifies as “good” will depend upon the circumstances that surround the marriage. If a married couple acquired a significant amount of property together over the course of their marriage such that it is considered fair to divide the separate property that each spouse owned prior to the marriage out of the equation, then this could qualify as a basis for excluding the property. Similarly, if one spouse acquired a considerable amount of credit card debt while the other conducted an adulterous affair, then this could qualify as a good reason for the spouse to pay for that debt.

Determining the equitable division of property, particularly in the event of a contentious divorce, can be a prolonged and painful affair. In order to ensure that your well-being and financial status are protected, you need to engage the services of an experienced New Hampshire divorce attorney. For a free consultation of your case, please contact one of our New Hampshire divorce lawyers today.