New Hampshire is an Equitable Distribution state. The law governing property division is Section 458:16-a of the New Hampshire Domestic Relations Chapter. Equitable Distribution does not mean the court splits all the assets in half. Rather, the court considers a set of factors to determine what is fair in assigning property to each spouse. The court will only “equitably divide” those assets that are considered marital property. Marital property is the property accumulated during the marriage.
Anything accumulated before the marriage is generally considered non-marital property and will not be “equitably divided.” Also, inheritances and gifts (acquired at any time) are usually considered non-marital property as well. However, it is important to note that non-marital property can sometimes become marital property if there is income from, or the value of the non-marital property is increased, during the marriage.
New Hampshire considers the following factors when assigning marital property to each spouse (through equitable distribution):
- The duration of the marriage,
- The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party,
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income,
- 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,
- The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects,
- 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,
- 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.
- Any direct or indirect contribution made by one party to help educate or develop the career or employability of the other party and any interruption of either party’s educational or personal career opportunities for the benefit of the other’s career or for the benefit of the parties’ marriage or children.
- The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage.
- The tax consequences for each party.
- The value of property that is allocated by a valid prenuptial contract made in good faith by the parties.
- The fault of either party as specified in RSA 458:7 if said fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and:
- Caused substantial physical or mental pain and suffering; or
- Resulted in substantial economic loss to the marital estate or the injured party.
- The value of any property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage,
- The value of any property acquired by gift, devise, or descent,
- Any other factor that the court deems relevant.
- See RSA 458:16-a for full text of the law.