The emotional and familial ramifications of divorce can be difficult enough; the last thing such people need is additional time and energy spent on the logistics of dividing their possessions. And yet, the division of material assets is often a taxing process unto itself, with each case presenting different circumstances and possibilities. This is especially true in the state New Jersey, which does not divide assets evenly but based on numerous conditions and factors.
Whether you have questions about child support, alimony, or the distribution of possessions, our firm is committed to helping you through the process in a fair and comprehensible way. Take this opportunity to read up on the factors that contribute to the division of assets during divorce.
Types of Assets
Before assets are divided, it must be determined which ones are subject to allotment in the first place. In order to distinguish between property that was owned by a single party and that which was owned jointly, assets are identified in one of two ways:
Separate property includes any items that were owned and managed solely by one person. This is most clearly defined when someone owned an asset prior to the marriage and did not share ownership throughout the marriage. Additionally, a gift or inheritance that was given specifically to one person is considered separate. Separate property does not get divided in a divorce unless it increased in value throughout the marriage and was used by both parties. For instance, if both people lived in a home that was already owned by one of them before the marriage, the person who did not own the home may be entitled to some of its increased value over the course of the marriage.
Marital property includes those items that were acquired during the course of the marriage. Such assets do not have to be used jointly or equally, as long as they were bought or substantially maintained during marriage. This also includes income that was earned during marriage, even if it was earned through the labor of one person. Marital assets are the primary items that are subject to division during divorce.
How Are Assets Divided?
New Jersey employs equitable distribution law when dealing with assets after a divorce. This means that property is divided in a way deemed most fair and appropriate, depending on a number of factors. In many cases, this does not result in an even split, but rather a distribution that reflects the nature of the relationship and the assets themselves. When considering who is entitled to which assets, the court takes as many as 15 different factors into account:
- The couple's standard of living throughout the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The monetary and physical assets each party brought into the marriage
- The physical and mental well-being of each party
- The present economic conditions of each party
- The ways in which each party contributed to the potential earning potential of the other
- The earning potential of each party, as compared to his or her income and lifestyle throughout the marriage
- The contribution of each party to the income and lifestyle previously attained by both
- The way in which subsequent asset distribution will affect each party's taxes
- The value of each marital asset or property
- The debts and liabilities of each party
- The perceived need for a parent to continue using a residence or other property in conjunction with child custody
- The anticipated need to create a fund for a child's upbringing and well-being
- Any pre-nuptial agreements or similar contracts regarding property distribution
- Any additionally relevant factors, as determined by the court
How Can an Attorney Help?
Attorneys are bound to be involved in the division of assets, even if the process and subsequent rulings occur primarily through a judge. However, there are certain advantages that can be gained by using a lawyer to mediate and facilitate the process between both parties. For example, "equitable distribution" does not necessarily mean a completely fair or desirable outcome. Rather, it simply means that the assets will be divided after all relevant factors have been considered. If both parties can agree upon their division of assets and come to an amiable compromise, they need not be at the mercy of a judge whose decision is only based on a cursory understanding of the facts. By working closely with an attorney, you can ensure that everyone's needs can be accounted for and the division of property is truly equitable.
Speak with a Lawyer Today
Learn how you can best protect your assets while arriving at a reasonable compromise.Contact our firm to speak with an experienced family attorney, and ensure the future well-being of yourself and your loved ones.