Equitable Distribution of Property

Westfield and Summit Attorneys Guiding Spouses through New Jersey Divorce Proceedings

Many people who are facing the end of a marriage are unfamiliar with their rights regarding property division, as well as the legal determinations that affect the distribution of assets when a marriage is dissolved. At Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, our New Jersey family law lawyers can protect the interests of people in the Westfield and Summit areas and elsewhere in New Jersey by using assertive, meticulous representation. We recognize that you have concerns about preserving your financial security during a divorce, and we can inform you of important considerations and potential outcomes in your particular situation.

Determining the Equitable Distribution of Property

The division of assets and debts in a divorce can be agreed upon by the parties, or it can be decided by a Judge at trial through a judgment. Under New Jersey law, each spouse generally retains his or her non-marital property. The non-marital property of each spouse, also known as separate property, consists of property acquired by the spouse before the marriage, as well as gifts and inheritances made solely to the spouse at any time. In certain instances, however, items related to separate property may be subject to equitable division. For example, the increase in value of a separate asset during the marriage may be subject to equitable distribution if it is attributable to the efforts of the other spouse.

In New Jersey, courts are required to distribute marital property and debt equitably in order to attain a fair allocation between the spouses. Marital property consists of assets acquired during the marriage. Common examples include the primary residence of the spouses, joint bank accounts and investments, retirement accounts, life insurance, or tangible personal property like cars and jewelry purchased during the marriage.

An equitable distribution is not necessarily an exactly even split. In making its allocation, the court considers several factors enumerated by New Jersey law. These may include:

  • The duration of the marriage or civil union;
  • The income and property contributed to the marriage by each spouse;
  • The standard of living of the spouses during the marriage;
  • Prenuptial and other written agreements between the spouses;
  • The financial condition of each spouse after the property division;
  • The age, health, income, and earning capacity of each spouse;
  • The contribution of each spouse to the earning power of the other and the value of the marital property;
  • The tax consequences to each spouse after distribution;
  • The value of the marital property; and
  • The need of the spouse with physical custody of a child to occupy the marital residence.

Other factors also may be considered within the discretion of the court. However, the fault of either spouse is not deemed to be relevant in determining equitable distribution.

Consult a Knowledgeable New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

Legal guidance on property division is often useful for New Jersey residents in making informed decisions during a New Jersey divorce proceeding. The attorneys at Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper can advise individuals in a variety of family law matters, including child support and alimony, equitable property division, child custody and parenting time, and others. We operate offices in Red Bank, Westfield and Summit from which we serve clients in areas such as Bergen, Essex, Somerset, Warren, and Passaic Counties. Call our office at (908) 233-6800 or contact us online for a free consultation.