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Property Division

A question that arises is how is property divided between spouses when their marriage ends in divorce.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement as to how they will divide their assets, the court is required to make that determination.  In this case, the legal proceeding is considered a matter of equity, which means the court will do what it needs to do to assure that the parties are being treated fairly, irrespective of which one of the spouses owned the property at the time of the divorce.

Reiser v. Reiser, 2001 ND 6, 621 N.W.2d 348

[¶4] Upon granting a divorce, the trial court is required under N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24 to make such equitable distribution of the real and personal property of the parties as may seem just and proper. The trial court's distribution of the marital property is a finding of fact and will not be reversed on appeal unless it is clearly erroneous. Wetzel v. Wetzel, 1999 ND 29, ¶ 16, 589 N.W.2d 889.

[¶5] In distributing the marital property, the trial court must use the guidelines established in Ruff v. Ruff, 78 N.D. 775, 52 N.W.2d 107, 111 (1952) and Fischer v. Fischer, 139 N.W.2d 845, 852 (N.D. 1966), wherein:

[T]he court, in exercising its sound discretion, will consider the respective ages of the parties to the marriage; their earning ability; the duration of and the conduct of each during the marriage; their station in life; the circumstances and necessities of each; their health and physical condition; their financial circumstances as shown by the property owned at the time, its value at that time, its income-producing capacity, if any, and whether accumulated or acquired before or after the marriage; and from all such elements the court should determine the rights of the parties and all other matters pertaining to the case.

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