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Most people going through a divorce are concerned about how their assets will be divided. New Jersey divides assets by equitable distribution. While equitable distribution does not mean an equal division, the intended outcome is meant to be fair.
In considering how much each party to the divorce should receive according to the New Jersey Equitable Distribution statute, the court will take several factors into consideration. These factors include:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and physical health of the parties
- The income and property brought to the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Whether any written agreement, such as a pre-nup, was made by the parties prior to marriage concerning a property distribution arrangement
- The economic circumstances of each party once the property division takes effect
- The income and earning capacity of each party
- Whether either party contributed to the education or training of the other to affect their earning potential
- How much each party contributed to the value of the marital property
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party
- The current value of the property
- The needs of one party to occupy the marital residence
- The debts and liabilities of each party
- The need for a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable educational or medical costs for either the spouse or children
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
- Any other relevant factors
In determining which party is permitted to remain in the family home, a court will also take the needs of the children into consideration, and which parent has physical custody of the child.
Any real property that was acquired during the marriage is taken into consideration when determining the division of assets. Property that was acquired before the marriage or through inheritance either before or during the marriage are exempt from equitable distribution, unless comingled with marital assets. Retirement, life insurance, bank accounts, credit card debt, tax liabilities, cars, and investment accounts are all subject to equitable distribution based on the extent of contribution, whether direct or indirect, of each party during the marriage. The portions of retirement, investment accounts, and life insurance that were contributed to prior to the marriage are generally exempt from equitable distribution.
Engagement rings are also typically exempt from equitable distribution as they are considered conditional gifts. However, gifts made during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution.
If you are going through a divorce, it is necessary to protect your assets. Speak with a skilled divorce attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights. The attorneys at Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney have the experience necessary to provide clients with the best possible outcome for their situation. Call (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.