New Jersey operates under the idea of “equitable distribution” when dividing assets between parties. This means that property will be divided in a way the court determines is fair to each party. This does not mean that property will be split 50-50. Property division can be one of the most stressful parts of a divorce, and often the most contentious. Keep reading to understand New Jersey’s equitable distribution laws.
New Jersey Equitable Distribution
Courts in New Jersey follow a 3 step process when they distribute assets between parties. These steps are:
- Determine what property is eligible for division.
Essentially, a court can equitably distribute any property acquired during the marriage, regardless of who purchased it. Property acquired during marriage begins the day of the marriage ceremony and ends the day of the divorce filing. Property that is subject to equitable distribution can include real estate, pension plans, businesses, income, debt, or any other tangible asset.
Any property acquired before this will not be considered. However, there are certain circumstances where property received before the marriage may still be eligible for division. For example, this could be a home purchased by one party before the marriage, and both parties lived in the home and contributed to improving it throughout the marriage. Additionally, if one of the parties receives a gift or inheritance during the marriage, it will typically not be subject to division.
If you are unsure if your property is eligible for distribution, an expert property division attorney can help you determine what assets you have.
Determine the value of the eligible property.
Determining the value of assets can be one of the most challenging tasks associated with property division. A court will usually be presented with evidence suggesting the value assigned to each property. This can be done by providing bank statements, receipts verifying purchases, or a financial expert can testify to the value of the asset. It will be up to the court to determine the value based on claims made by either party.
Decide which party is awarded the eligible property.
New Jersey courts will examine all facts and circumstances that they deem relevant to the case when deciding how to distribute property. Depending on the presented evidence, the court will determine what is a fair amount for each party.
New Jersey statutes state courts will consider the following when dividing assets:
The length of the marriage
The age and physical and mental health of each party
The amount of property each party contributed to the marriage
The standard of living established during the marriage
Any written agreements regarding property distribution made either before or during the marriage
The economic circumstances of each party after the distribution is finalized
Each parties income and earning capacity, including their educational background, training, employment history and skills, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time it may take for either party to become self-supporting at a standard of living that was accustomed during the marriage
The contribution by each party to the education, training, or earning power of the other
The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party who acts as a homemaker
The tax consequences the proposed distribution may have on either party
The present value of the property
The need of a parent with physical custody to own or occupy the shared residence
The debts and liabilities of each party
The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or child
The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
Any other factor the court deems relevant
Dividing your assets during your divorce can be difficult. New Jersey’s equitable distribution process can make it even more confusing and stressful. DeTommaso Law Group works closely with a network of trusted financial experts to ensure you receive your fair share of assets.
Call our expert property division attorneys at (908) 274-3028 for help during your divorce.