Is New Jersey an Equitable Distribution State?

New Jersey is one of many states using equitable distribution laws when dividing your property and assets during your divorce.

The New Jersey courts will always attempt to divide all marital assets fairly. However, you must realize that “fairly” does not always mean that your assets are divided equally between you and your spouse. In other words, it may not be a 50/50 split of property or any type of marital assets.

The N.J. courts will consider many factors when deciding how your property will be divided. For example, the specific needs and situation of each spouse, the unique circumstances they may face (paying particular attention to their post-divorce financial circumstances), the nature of the assets involved, and much more.

In essence, there are three main steps utilized when the N.J. courts are attempting to reach equitable distribution; these commonly are:

  • Your marital property must be clearly defined.
  • All marital property must be valued accurately and professionally.
  • Once all the facts are known, the property can be divided “fairly.”

In almost all N.J. divorces, all marital property will commonly be divided. Even assets and debts that are usually broadly defined or are vague, such as patents or copyrights.

Although the equitable distribution process always attempts to be fair, it may not be (or seem to be) to you or your spouse. Remember that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal,” so you and your spouse must compromise on some issues, or the New Jersey courts may do it for you.

Equitable distribution is one of the critical areas of your divorce and could significantly impact how your post-divorce life is structured. It’s also an area where your Morris County equitable distribution lawyer’s advice, guidance, and negotiation skills will be invaluable to you and your family.

What May Be Considered In the Equitable Distribution Of Our Property?

As stated, in most divorces, there commonly are disparities between your and your spouse’s former and future lives. Of course, there are cases where your marital assets may be divided 50/50. However, the criteria for equitable distribution are detailed and require a professional, equitable distribution lawyer to navigate successfully.

The New Jersey courts hold the power to distribute your assets in a way they believe is fair.

Below are just a few of the factors that may affect the distribution, they are:

  • You and your spouse’s age, health, and skill set.
  • The previous and current economic status of both spouses.
  • How long have you been married?
  • The contributions you each made to acquiring and building your asset base.
  • The overall debt of the former household.
  • Economic requirements of any children involved.
  • Both your incomes when you were married and how they provided for the family.

Each divorce differs, and many other factors may come into play; however, there are some that the court will not consider when deciding equitable distribution.

Factors such as drug abuse, criminal history, domestic violence, adultery, etc., commonly are not  considered, unless your attorney argues that they affect your asset or debt base. Although these factors are severe and may have instigated your divorce, they usually are not considered when dividing assets.

The best path to take is to thoroughly discuss all your assets and overall financial situation with your experienced Morris County equitable distribution lawyer. By doing so, you can go to court with a plan, as you wish it to be, and have an excellent starting point for possible negotiations.

What Is the Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Property?

This is often an area of contention in a divorce and should be discussed in detail with your equitable distribution lawyer.

Throughout your marriage, accumulated debts or assets are commonly considered “marital property.” They then would be subject to the equitable distribution rules in your divorce.

Contrarily, any property, assets, or debt held independently by either spouse before your marriage may be exempt (and kept separate) from the equitable distribution regulations.

Accordingly, discussing your situation with your lawyer will allow you to detail what debts, assets, and property may fall into each category, thus ensuring that the courts are aware of their marital or non-marital status.

That said, deciding on ” marital ” or “non-marital” property can be very difficult and an area of severe contention between you and your spouse. It’s a subject that your lawyer knows is highly “fact-sensitive” and may need substantial proof to prove your point.

Suppose the facts need to be clarified (and often not). In that case, your equitable distribution lawyer’s experience, depth of knowledge, and negotiation skills will often help enormously to state your case to the New Jersey court.

What are Some Simple Examples of Marital and Non-Marital Property?

As this distinction often comes up in divorces and could substantially affect your future life, a comprehensive and detailed discussion with your lawyer is mandatory,

However, some examples of marital property would be:

  • The family home, vacation home, etc.
  • Automobiles, furniture, paintings, boats, etc.
  • Family-owned businesses or interests in a company.
  • Any retirement assets, pensions, and much more.
  • Pets are often involved also.
  • All debts, mortgages, etc.

While the non-marital property may include:

  • Any assets or debts acquired before you were married that were not handled in any way with marital funds.
  • Any gifts made directly to you and your spouse before or during your marriage.
  • Any assets you inherited directly before or during the marriage.
  • All assets received by either spouse that were a direct result of income or efforts by that spouse before marriage.

This can be, at times, an extremely vague line with some assets, and you and your equitable distribution lawyer will have to ensure that the proof you supply will be adequate to separate a non-marital asset from the equitable distribution rules.

I Am Concerned About the Division of Property In My Divorce; What Should I Do?

As stated, since New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, you must have a professional, experienced Morris County equitable distribution lawyer to thoroughly navigate this process and help you obtain what’s rightfully yours.

You must realize that these decisions will influence you and possibly your children’s future, and although equitable distribution attempts to be fair, that’s not always the case.

The equitable distribution lawyers at the Edens Law Group have been assisting New Jersey clients successfully, stating their case throughout the equitable distribution process since 1994. They will diligently fight for your rights to withhold or obtain what you rightfully deserve to keep your future intact.

Call them today at (908) 529-0353 and get the detailed, professional, and winning help you need at this crucial time.