Property Division: The Fate of Your Marital Property Post-Divorce
When it comes to family law in New Jersey, a common question we hear is, “Is New Jersey a 50/50 divorce state?” Individuals wonder how their assets and property will be split in NJ during a divorce. To answer this question, let’s explore how New Jersey laws define structures for property division on divorce, including what it means for New Jersey to be a “50/50” state, what to expect, and how these laws may apply to different property types.
So What is a 50/50 State?
In some US jurisdictions, known as community property states, marital property is divided equally, or 50/50. This means that most of the property, debt, and assets acquired during the marriage (with a few exceptions) are subject to division when the marriage ends. It doesn’t matter who initially acquired the property.
How are Assets Divided in a Divorce in New Jersey?
When it comes to divorce in New Jersey, the division of assets is determined by equitable distribution. New Jersey is not a 50/50 divorce state. Instead, it follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that property and assets are divided in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. This approach allows courts to consider various factors to ensure a just distribution rather than an automatic equal split of marital assets and debts. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, contributions to the marriage, and other relevant factors are taken into account.
This means that marital property, including assets acquired during the marriage, is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between the spouses. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate, and their respective financial circumstances are considered. It is important to note that separate property, which includes assets owned prior to the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance, is typically not subject to division.
New Jersey is not a 50/50 divorce state. Instead, it follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that property and assets are divided in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. This approach allows courts to consider various factors to ensure a just distribution, rather than an automatic equal split of marital assets and debts.
Classes of Property in a New Jersey Divorce
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an amicable agreement on property division, the courts will intervene. The first task of a New Jersey court is to categorize all your assets and liabilities, which can generally be classified into the following two categories:
Community or marital property refers to assets and debts acquired during the marriage, which are considered joint property and subject to equitable distribution. This may include the family home, vehicles, joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, and household furnishings acquired during the marriage.
Separate property refers to assets and debts individually owned by a spouse, not subject to division. This includes pre-marital assets, inheritances, gifts, and personal injury awards. Property division in a New Jersey divorce can be complex, so consulting with a family law attorney is essential for guidance.
Factors that Affect Property Division in New Jersey
In New Jersey, asset division in divorce is not necessarily a 50/50 split. The court considers factors such as the length of the marriage, financial situation of the spouses, spousal contributions to careers, and size of the marital estate.
Disputed Property Division Claims
Disputes often arise in divorce cases sometimes there are misconception about NJ law, or what seems fair to one spouse or the other, other times one party may claim that certain assets are non-marital, meaning they were acquired before the marriage and should not be subject to division.
In these cases, the spouse making the claim has the burden of proof to show that the asset is indeed non-marital. This can be a complex and contentious process, as assets may have been commingled or their value may have significantly increased during the marriage.
Other common disputed claims include:
- Digital assets: This can include cryptocurrencies, online accounts, digital currencies, or anything else of value that exists in a digital format. These assets can be challenging to divide because of their often-volatile value and difficulty physically dividing them.
- Advanced Degrees: An advanced degree obtained during the marriage may be considered marital property. The earning potential that the degree provides may need to be equitably divided.
- Businesses: If a spouse owns a business or a share in a business, this can be a complex asset to divide. The business may need to be evaluated and its future income potential considered.
- Commingled Property: This refers to property that was originally owned by one spouse but has become mixed with marital property. Determining the value of this property and how much each spouse is entitled to can be complex.
- Property Acquired After Separation: Assets obtained after the date of separation can present another layer of complexity. Depending on the laws within your jurisdiction, these may or may not be considered marital property and subjected to division.
- Hidden Assets: These are assets that were not disclosed during the divorce proceedings. Unearthing and equitably dividing hidden assets can be challenging, requiring thorough investigation and potentially legal recourse.
- Retirement Plans: The division of retirement assets, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, or pensions, often requires careful scrutiny. The value of these assets can change over time, and there may be tax implications and penalties associated with early withdrawal. It’s critical to consider these factors when equitably dividing retirement assets.
- Family Home: The marital home is often one of the most significant assets to divide in a divorce. Decisions need to be made about whether one spouse will keep the home, whether it will be sold and the profits divided, or if other arrangements will be made. This decision can be particularly complicated if there are children involved, as continuity of their living situation may need to be considered.
Whether you are bringing or defending a claim, property division disputes can have a significant impact on your future financial health. It is recommended to hire an attorney for your case. We can work with you to assist in evaluating the value of assets, negotiate a fair division of property and when needed, represent your case in court. We have a team of financial experts, advisors, and seasoned legal minds to ensure equitable division of marital assets.
Resources on New Jersey Property Division
Our website is dedicated to providing resources on NJ property laws. These resources were create to answer common questions about property division in divorce cases, including laws, evaluating asset values, considering tax implications, and providing financial planning advice. Whether you need guidance on prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements or assistance in disputing a divorce settlement, we can help you safeguard your interests in complex property division cases.
We also answer common questions about marital property in NJ, such as if New Jersey is a community property or 50/50 divorce state, or follows equitable distribution. Additionally, gaining insight into how attorneys handle various situations that arise during divorce proceedings is crucial. They can assist clients in negotiating settlements, uncovering hidden assets, and navigating complex scenarios, such as property division even when one’s name is not on the mortgage.
Laws in New Jersey are subject to change. Therefore, for the most current and applicable information relating to your situation, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer. The guidance provided here is general in nature and may not accurately reflect the nuances of your personal circumstances or recent changes in the law.
Lean on Our Experience
Looking for info on New Jersey property division? We’ve got you covered! Our team can assist with asset valuation, tax implications, and financial planning. We provide resources for prenuptial/post-nuptial agreements, disputing settlements, and more. Trust Petrelli Previtera for personalized advice tailored to your goals in property division matters. Contact us today for representation or a consultation. We bring clarity and support to your divorce process. Let’s discuss your situation and goals.