It is not uncommon for couples to live together before getting married. In some cases, they will acquire significant property, such as a home, furniture and a vehicle. While the Matrimonial Property Act [MPA] applies a presumption of equal division to property acquired during the marriage, it exempts the property acquired before the marriage. Consequently, the original value of that property is not divided on separation or divorce; only the increase in value of that property, from the marriage to the trial, may be distributed by the court in a just and equitable manner.
ALRI proposes to extend the presumption of equal division to property acquired by the spouses while they lived together before marriage. If the relationship is an economic partnership, the spouses should be presumed to intend to share property acquired from the beginning of that relationship, including any period of premarital cohabitation. The proposal is intended to make the law clearer, more predictable, and consistent with other family law statutes.