Going through a divorce is a difficult experience. Those who find themselves considering a divorce or who recently filed for a separation likely have a number of questions. Three common questions are:
- How is property classified during a divorce in New Jersey?
- How is this property split?
- Is alimony available?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help ease some of the stress associated with the divorce.
It is also important for those moving forward with a divorce to note that family law is governed by state law. As such, the rules that apply vary from state to state. This information focuses specifically on those that apply to divorces in New Jersey.
What type of classification is used for property when a New Jersey couple divorces?
Like most states, New Jersey law generally classifies property into two categories: marital or separate.
In most cases, marital property includes both the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. In contrast, separate property encompasses those items acquired prior to the marriage.
There are some exceptions. An inheritance, for example, can be considered separate property even if it is received during the marriage. In order to retain its separate status, the inheritance must not be comingled with marital property. This means the inheritance cannot be deposited in a joint checking account or otherwise mixed with other marital funds.
How is this property split during divorce?
Once the property is classified, the property division determination of the divorce proceeding can move forward. New Jersey uses an equitable distribution system to divide marital property. This basically means that the court attempts to divide the property in a fair manner.
This does not always translate to an exact 50/50 split. Courts take a number of factors into consideration when determining how to split the property. These factors can include the length of the marriage, the age of each spouse and the standard of living the couple enjoyed while married as well as the ability for each spouse to earn an income in the future.
Does New Jersey law allow for alimony?
In short, yes, New Jersey law allows for an individual to receive alimony payments from an ex-spouse as part of a divorce settlement. Alimony is also referred to as maintenance, and is allowed depending on the circumstances of each divorce.
The factors considered when calculating an alimony or maintenance award are similar to those used to split the property. The duration of the award can vary. For marriages lasting less than 20 years, the award generally cannot last longer than the length of the marriage.
These are just a few of the more common legal issues that can arise when going through a divorce. As such, those who find themselves attempting to navigate a divorce are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can serve as an ally, helping you to overcome any legal obstacles that may develop during the divorce.