When a couple gets divorced the marital property is divided between the two spouses. This is often the most contentious issue in the dissolution of the marriage. Disagreements over marital assets drive many divorce cases to trial.
If you are facing divorce or physical separation, it is crucial that you obtain representation by an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer to protect your interests. At the law offices of Aretsky Law Group, P.C., our divorce attorneys are committed to providing effective legal representation in negotiation, mediation, and litigation in divorce court.
Division of property in New Jersey is based upon “equitable distribution,” which means that the property must be divided in an equitable, or fair, manner. It does not mean that it must be shared equally.
If the spouses can reach an agreement as to what each will retain through negotiation or mediation, then the court will likely accept their written property settlement. However, if mediation or direct negotiation between the two cannot resolve the dispute, then the court will intervene.Marital Property
Before equitable distribution can be decided, it is necessary to determine what is marital property and what is owned by only one of the spouses. New Jersey courts assume that all property obtained or earned during the marriage is marital property. This is true even if the title to that property is in the name of one spouse only. Even gifts given to one another during the marriage are included.Separate Property
Some property is excluded from equitable distribution. Exclusions include the following:
- property owned before the marriage;
- property acquired after either spouse files for divorce;
- gifts intended specifically for one spouse except those given by other; and
- an inheritance specifically left to one spouse.
The equitable division of property is complicated. There are some situations in which separate property can be considered marital property. A NJ divorce lawyer with a clear understanding of NJ law can help protect your interests.Factors Considered To Determine Equitable Distribution
In making a final determination, the court considers the factors set forth in New Jersey’s equitable distribution statute:
- duration of the marriage;
- age and physical and mental health of each party;
- income or property each brought to the marriage;
- standard of living established during the marriage;
- prenuptial or postnuptial clauses regarding property;
- income and earning potential of each;
- contribution to the other’s education and/or earning power;
- contributions as homemaker;
- tax consequences;
- present value of property;
- custodial parent’s need to stay in family home;
- debts and liabilities of each;
- need for a trust to meet future educational and medical needs;
- if one spouse deferred career goals to benefit the marriage; and
- any other factor deemed important by the court.
High-asset cases by their very nature include many different types of assets and liabilities:
- marital home;
- vacation homes;
- rental properties;
- business interests;
- pension plans;
- IRAs, 401Ks and other accounts;
- profit sharing;
- jewelry, artwork and other valuables;
- credit-card debt;
- mortgages and other loans;
- and more.
There are several interrelated issues that people must be considered when reaching an agreement on the division of marital property:
- What is (and is not) part of the marital estate (marital versus separate non-marital property)?
- Is there a valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement with provisions governing the distribution of marital and non-marital property and any award of alimony?
- What is the value of each asset or debt?
- What are the tax consequences associated with the division of assets?
- Who will benefit the most from having each marital asset? What other property may offset it in the negotiations?
- Is spousal support a consideration in this divorce?
Each of these issues can present challenges, particularly in complex divorce cases involving business holdings and deferred executive compensation packages.Contact Our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys
Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating and negotiating fair property settlement agreements. When it will be helpful, we work with financial experts to help clients understand their assets and make informed decisions regarding marital property distribution.
For legal help with marital property distribution or other issues involved in divorce or the dissolution of a domestic partnership, contact Aretsky Law Group, P.C. Call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.