What Distinguishes Between Marital and Non-Marital Property In My N.J. Divorce?

In most New Jersey divorces, property division is almost always a point of contention and must be discussed thoroughly with your Morris County asset distribution lawyer.

When you marry, you may have accumulated some assets, such as vehicles, a home, and more. Usually, assets (and sometimes debts) you earned before marriage are considered non-marital property.

However, once you marry and begin to gather other assets (and debts), all these assets are commonly owned by both of you and are considered “marital property.” This “marital property” is shared and is widely subject to the “equitable distribution rules” in your New Jersey divorce.

Accordingly, non-marital property, or assets you or your spouse acquired before your marriage, may be exempted (and treated separately) by New Jersey’s equitable distribution legalities and regulations.

So, before discussing any asset distribution with the court, you must identify and discuss these two types of assets with your asset distribution lawyer. This will ensure that you fully detail what debts, assets, and property may fall into each category and also be apparent to the New Jersey courts what property and assets you owned before your marriage (non-marital assets) and what you both accumulated together (marital assets). This will allow the court (and the judge) to be fully aware of their marital or non-marital legal status under New Jersey’s Equitable Distribution Laws.

This may all sound quite simple, but it certainly usually is not and commonly is a subject of severe contention between you and your spouse. Your lawyer will explain that this distinction is highly “fact-sensitive,” you must often prepare substantial proof to prove which assets fall into each category.

These facts must be clarified, and your lawyer’s experience, knowledge, and negotiation skills will often help significantly prove your case to the New Jersey court.

What Does It Mean That New Jersey is an “Equitable Distribution” State/

This topic is more complex than it sounds, but it commonly means that all property acquired during your marriage (marital property) must be divided equally when you and your spouse divorce.

This “marital” property, acquired by either you or your spouse while married, will be divided equally unless you prove, and the court acknowledges, that equal division would be unjust.

All property acquired and possessed by you or your spouse while married is presumed to be marital property unless shown and proven to the New Jersey court that it is separate property. For example, the N.J. court could determine whether an inheritance received by you or a gift from an outside third party and kept solely in your name could be exempt from the equitable distribution laws.

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

This is a critical topic in your divorce proceeding as it could significantly impact your current and future life, and a comprehensive and detailed discussion should always be made with your Morris County asset distribution lawyer.

That said, some common examples of marital property would be:

  • Your current family home, vacation, investment property, and more.
  • Vehicles, boats, RV’s, home furnishings, paintings, and more.
  • Family-owned businesses, business investments or interests in other companies, etc.
  • Possibly retirement assets such as pensions, 401 K’s, etc.
  • Pets are often a highly discussed and argumentative topic.
  • Most all debts, mortgages, loans, etc.

Types of non-marital property might include;

  • Any property or assets, etc., acquired before your marriage and acquired with your funds, and no marital funds were used.
  • Any substantial gifts made directly to you or your spouse before or during your marriage.
  • Any assets you inherited before or during your marriage.
  • All, or any, assets received by you or your spouse that were a direct result of income or efforts by you or your spouse before your marriage, and more.

The distinction and separation of marital and non-marital assets can be extremely vague. Your experienced Morris County asset distribution lawyer will always ensure that you provide substantial and significant proof to prove to the court that your non-marital assets are separate and not affected by New Jerseys’ equitable distribution rules.

Because of “Equitable Distribution” Is Marital Property Always Split 50/50?

The Equitable Distribution Laws of New Jersey state that marital property in a divorce must be distributed fairly; this does not always mean that these assets will be split 50/50, however, as mitigating factors can be involved.

Although the “Equitable Distribution” process many times does do a 50/50 split on various assets, this is not always the case, as the court considers many factors, such as;

  • The length and total duration of your marriage.
  • The age and physical and emotional health of you and your spouse.
  • You and your spouse’s current income.
  • All the accumulated debts or liabilities you and your spouse owe.
  • Your current and possibly past standard of living.
  • Both of your current and possibly future economic situations.
  • Both of your overall contributions to your marital property, which may include one of your contributions as a homemaker.
  • Your current and estimated future earning capacity.
  • All written agreements, such as a prenup, drafted before or during your marriage pertaining to property and asset distribution.
  • And all other factors that your lawyer points out and the court deems relevant to the equitable distribution process.

So, as in most legal situations, the Equitable Distribution process may sound relatively simple to carry out, but this is not always the case. This process can sometimes become highly complex, contentious, and emotional. This is why all matters pertaining to this critical matter must be thoroughly discussed with your empathetic and skilled Morris County asset distribution lawyer before you go to court; this is an essential part of your divorce and could affect your and your children’s future.

I’m Concerned About Asset Distribution In My Divorce; What Should I Do?

Each divorce differs, and when going through this process, you must remember a few crucial items about asset distribution. First, you and your lawyer must ensure that all marital property is valued precisely and correctly. For example, you may have to get your home and other property appraised or enlist the help of specialists to value art collections, jewelry, or other valuable items.

You should also know that some spouses may attempt to hide assets when you’re divorcing. This is why working with the right legal professional, such as a seasoned, experienced, and thorough asset distribution lawyer, is mandatory.

The Edens Law Group has successfully assisted clients with asset evaluation and distribution since 1994. Call them today at (908) 529-0353, and they will fight to see that asset distribution in your divorce is done fairly and fight to make sure your future is secure.