Property Division in New Jersey Divorces: Equitable vs. Equal
When couples face the challenging prospect of divorce, one of their most significant concerns is the division of property. Who gets the house? The car? The family pet? New Jersey law governs how marital assets are distributed, adhering to the principles of equitable distribution. Read on to learn more about just exactly what the New Jersey laws and courts mean when they say that marital property must be divided “equitably.” For help with property division and divorce in Union, Middlesex, or Essex County, contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro to share your concerns with a knowledgeable and experienced Union family law attorney.
Understanding Equitable Distribution in New Jersey
Equitable distribution is a legal principle applied in New Jersey to determine the fair division of marital assets during a divorce. It’s important to note that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” Instead, it refers to a distribution that is fair and just, considering various factors specific to each case.
If the parties can’t agree on how to split up their property, the matter will have to be litigated in court. New Jersey courts consider several factors when dividing marital property. Your attorney will gather the evidence and make the legal arguments that will help the judge make an educated and informed decision that reflects your needs and interests. The key factors to be considered include, among others:
Duration of the Marriage: Longer marriages may require a more detailed examination of finances.
Age and Health of Each Party: This includes physical and emotional well-being.
Income and Economic Circumstances: The court evaluates each spouse’s earning capacity, income, and liabilities.
Standard of Living Established in the Marriage: This assessment ensures that neither party experiences a drastic change in lifestyle post-divorce.
Contributions to Marital Property: This includes both financial contributions and non-financial ones, such as homemaking and child-rearing.
Debts and Liabilities: The distribution of debt is also subject to equitable principles.
Marital vs. Separate Property
In New Jersey, only marital property is subject to division. Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage either jointly or separately. Separate property, which is not divided, typically includes assets acquired before the marriage as well as inheritances and personal gifts received by one spouse alone during the marriage.
The Process of Property Division in New Jersey Divorce Cases
During a divorce in Union, Essex, and Middlesex counties, the process of dividing property starts with identifying all assets and debts. Then, each asset is classified as either marital or separate property. After classification, the court evaluates the above-mentioned factors to reach an equitable distribution.
Examples of Property Subject to Division
Real Estate: This includes the marital home and any other real estate investments.
Bank Accounts and Investments: Joint and individual accounts acquired during the marriage.
Retirement Accounts and Pensions: These are often significant assets in long-term marriages.
Personal Property: Cars, furniture, and other tangible items acquired during the marriage.
Challenges in Equitable Distribution
The process of equitable distribution can be complex. It often involves detailed financial analysis and sometimes requires the assistance of financial experts. Disagreements over the value of assets, the suspicion of hidden assets, or how to deal with debts can complicate the process further. This is where the expertise of a seasoned family law attorney becomes invaluable.
The Role of Legal Representation
Having experienced legal representation is crucial in navigating the intricacies of property division. A knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance, represent your interests, and help ensure a fair distribution of assets. The Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro practices extensively in family law and are dedicated to helping clients in Union, Essex, and Middlesex counties navigate their divorce proceedings with personalized attention and expertise.
If you’re facing a divorce and have concerns about property division, call the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102 for guidance and representation from a skilled and experienced Union divorce and family law attorney.