There is no such thing as a right to equitable distribution of property during the dissolution of a domestic partnership. This right only accrues to individuals who have entered into marriage or a civil union. However, as dissolution of domestic partnerships occur in the Chancery Court, equitable principles are applied and joint property or property to which both parties contributed during the partnership, may be subject to partition, i.e., division.
This issue was upheld on appeal in June 2008, wherein The Honorable John Tomasello, J.S.C. in Gloucester County, New Jersey awarded the division of a summer home the domestic partners had shared. The Order specified that interest in a house constituted the division of assets based upon equitable principles, and was not equitable distribution of property.
If the partners in the foregoing matter had converted their partnership to a civil union upon enactment of same in New Jersey, equitable distribution of property could have been properly directed as this is one of the many rights and privileges from which civil union partners in New Jersey benefit.
If you have questions regarding equitable distribution in domestic partnerships in New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment to meet with me in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office.