When filing for divorce, one of the major factors both parties consider is property distribution. Both believe they are entitled to a certain split of all assets, which has the potential to be contested and heated. It is important to consider the factors the court will examine when distributing assets. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state and assets will be divided in an equitable fashion. This does not always mean equally, but rather, what is fair. Though the court will decide on the case, it encourages the parties to come to an agreement, with or without a mediator.
When considering a property distribution case, a judge or mediator will need to answer some questions.
- How long has the couple been married?
- How old are the spouses and what is the physical and mental health of the parties?
- What was the standard of living established during the marriage?
- What is the income and earning capacity of each party?
- What is the value of the property?
There are many more factors that go into deciding a fair and reasonable distribution of property, either by the courts or mediator. New Jersey courts will usually agree to a fair and reasonable property division if the parties concur. If the couple cannot agree on the outcome, the court will divide the property, as it deems fair and equitable.
When discussing property distribution, New Jersey has two categories of property: marital and separate. Marital properties are assets gained by either spouse during the marriage as well as separate property brought into the marriage and turned into marital property. Separate property, or property acquired before marriage or agreed upon during marriage as separate, is usually not included in the proceedings. Immune properties are assets gained by each spouse before the marriage or acquired individually without including it into the marital property. This can also include separate property, which was agreed to before the parties got married. The judge will ultimately decide what is considered marital or separate property.
Once the judge decides what is marital property and separate property, they will assign monetary value to the marital property and debt. They will take into consideration the parties’ age and health, each contribution to the marital property, the parties’ economic circumstance, and tax consequences. The court will distribute the assets between the two parties in an equitable manner. Finally, they will allocate the marital property.
Lastly, both parties should know that, because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state and marital fault will not be considered when dividing property or debt, but economic fault might. For example, adultery would not impact the distribution of assets or debt and will not be a factor in deciding who is awarded what property. Economic fault or any financial consequences to the assets would be taken into consideration for the other party. Again, this is a complicated and emotional procedure. Having the right representation will protect both parties and expedite the process. With convenient locations in Cherry Hill and New Brunswick, New Jersey, we are strategically situated to serve clients across the state. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. to discuss your property distribution.