Dividing Property in a New Jersey Divorce
When couples get divorced, the thing that gives them the most grief is division of the marital assets. This may be because there are just so many assets to divide among them. Or, it may be because both spouses want to keep a specific asset in the divorce and neither are willing to compromise on the subject. Whether you have too many items to divide or you and your spouse are fighting over who gets to keep what, knowing how you can divide property in a divorce in New Jersey and what happens if you cannot agree can be beneficial to both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
What is Equitable Distribution?
In New Jersey, courts use a process called equitable distribution to divide property among the spouses in a divorce. During equitable distribution, courts will analyze a variety of factors and, from there, determine which spouse gets what. The purpose of equitable distribution is to fairly divide the marital property between the two spouses. Fairly does not necessarily mean, however, that a court must divide the property evenly. Rather, courts may divide the property among the spouses as they see fit so long as they have considered the equitable distribution factors outlined in NJ Rev. Stat. 2A:34-23.1and fashion their awards accordingly.
Equitable Distribution Factors
As previously stated, the equitable distribution factors New Jersey courts consider when dividing marital assets in a divorce is set forth in NJ Rev. Stat. 2A:34-23.1, the New Jersey statute governing equitable distribution. These factors include:
- The duration or length of the marriage
- The age of the respective spouses
- The physical and mental/emotional health of the respective spouses
- The income or property brought into the marriage by each spouse
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements entered into by the spouses before or during the marriage
- The economic circumstances of the respective spouses before distribution of the assets
- The income and earning capacity of the respective spouses
- The contributions of one spouse to the other’s education or earning power of the other
- The contributions of the respective spouses to the home (usually as a homemaker
- The present value of the property to be distributed
- The tax consequences of the distribution
- The contribution of each spouse to the appreciation or depreciation of the marital property during the marriage
- The debts and liabilities of the respective spouses and any jointly-held debts
- The needs of the spouse who has physical custody of the children to own or occupy the marital residence
- The extent to which the spouses deferred achieving their career goals for the other spouse
- The need for creation of a trust fund to obtain reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for the respective spouses
- Any other relevant factor
Alternatives to Letting the Courts Divide Marital Property
While New Jersey courts will decide how to divide marital property by considering the equitable distribution factors set forth above, courts only decide on how to divide the marital property among the spouses if the parties cannot agree and need the court to decide. Oftentimes, spouses can mutually agree on how to divide the marital property between themselves by putting the agreement into what is called a marital settlement agreement. Dividing property in this way can be beneficial to the spouses because the spouses have control over the process and, therefore, will not be subject to the equitable distribution determinations made by a judge.
Additionally, before the marriage even starts or even during the marriage, spouses can enter into binding agreements to divide their property in the event that their marriage ends in divorce. These agreements, called prenuptial and postnuptial agreements respectively, will be enforced by courts during a divorce so long as the spouses entered into them voluntarily and intelligently, the spouses disclosed all of their assets and liabilities with one another before entering into the agreement, and the agreement is in writing and signed by both parties.
Contact a Voorhees Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of property, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Davis & Mendelson represent clients throughout the state, including Voorhees, Moorestown, Cherry Hill, and Mt. Laurel. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 627-0100 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 1200 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 101, Voorhees, NJ 08043.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.