Alimony and Property Division
Either party may claim alimony from the other based upon a great
variety of factors that affect the equities of the claim, such as
the parties' respective incomes, needs and resources. Although
the circumstances that led to the parties' estrangement are considered
by the court, adultery or other fault does not automatically preclude
or ensure an award of alimony. Alimony may be awarded for
a specific or limited period of time, as a rehabilitative measure,
or in more exceptional situations where a party cannot become self-supporting
or the parties' incomes will be unconscionably disparate the court
may make the alimony award of indefinite duration.
Regarding property, unless the parties come to an agreement, the
court may enter a monetary award in the form of a dollar judgment
against one spouse and in favor of the other, based upon a valuation
of marital property and how it is titled between the parties at the
time of divorce. Marital property includes money and property acquired
during the marriage, however titled, but not gifts and inheritances,
or property directly traceable to a gift or inheritance. At
the time of divorce, the court will ask the parties to itemize all
of their marital property, and to indicate which party owns what
property. The court will then decide whether to leave the parties'
holdings as they are, make a monetary award of dollars payable from
one spouse to the other, and whether to re-allocate pension and retirement
accounts between the divorcing parties, to fashion a more equitable
distribution of the parties' property interests. In addition
to entering a monetary award, and re-allocating pension and retirement
accounts, the court has the power to order the sale of jointly-titled
property, including a home, and distribute the sales proceeds, and
also may order a spouse-to-spouse transfer or sale of the parties'
former principal residence and family use property, on terms set
by the court.
The tracing of the sources of assets, their valuation, and their
equitable distribution, are often difficult and complex issues to
prove and resolve in contested cases, and the court has wide discretion
to fashion relief to accomplish what the court determines is equitable.