Equitable property division in a NJ Divorce Case

New Jersey follows an equitable distribution model of property division, and separates property according to need rather than splitting it in half.

New Jersey couples who are going through a divorce are faced with a myriad of difficult topics to discuss. For some, property division is the hardest, as it involves the separation of property and assets that have been accumulated during years of marriage. People can form an emotional attachment to certain items, and it can be hard to let that go. Fortunately, New Jersey is an equitable distribution of property state, which divides property in a fair manner. This may help some people keep ahold of their precious possessions.

Equitable distribution of property

Rather the split all marital property equally, New Jersey Courts divide property acquired during the marriage in a fair and reasonable manner using the equitable distribution of property model. In equitable distribution, the judge will look at a variety of factors involved in each unique divorce case before determining who is entitled to what in the divorce settlement. According to Cornell University Law School, the following factors are often considered when separating property in a divorce case:

  • The liabilities of each spouse
  • How much each spouse contributed to the accumulation of property and to the marriage, either by earning income or taking care of the home and children
  • The length of the marriage
  • The skill set, income and potential income of each spouse, as well as the ability to find employment
  • Whether a spouse has primary custody of the children and will receive child support or alimony
  • The age and health of each spouse

The purpose of the equitable distribution model is to divide property in such a way that prepares both spouses for their lives after divorce.

Marital vs. separate property

Marital assets and property include almost everything that a couple has acquired throughout the years of marriage. While most people generally think of real estate, furniture and cars, there are a variety of other items that may be considered marital as well. According to Forbes, marital property may include retirement plans, life insurance policies, stock options, pensions, 401K plans, Social Security benefits and any other type of interest that accumulates during the marriage. Items, including horses, art collections, wines, antiques and rare coins, are other types of marital property.

Separate property, on the other hand, is usually not eligible for division in a divorce case, and can remain in the possession of the primary owner. Separate property consists of items and assets that a spouse owned prior to the marriage. Inheritance or gift money received before, during or after the marriage is also considered separate property. Forbes reported that in some cases, separate property that has been mixed in with marital property may become eligible for distribution. For example, if inheritance money is deposited in a joint bank account with both spouses names attached, the money may be considered marital.

The importance of legal counsel

Divorcing couples in New Jersey are not required to retain an attorney. Yet, having a divorce attorney present to help you make those critical decisions during an emotional time can be extremely helpful. An attorney may help to ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to in your divorce settlement.