The State of New Jersey is an equitable distribution state meaning that property and assets in a divorce proceeding will be divided between the parties in an “equitable” manner. The term “equitable” means “fair”. Therefore, when effectuating the division of marital assets, the Court must consider the following sixteen (16) factors, which are set forth under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1, and make specific findings of fact as to same:
7. The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union;
9. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
12. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;
16. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. As you can see, the last factor is a “catch-all” factor whereby the Court can consider any other factor when making a determination as to how property will be divided between the parties. When determining the division, there is a rebuttable presumption that each party made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to the acquisition of income and property during the marriage.
Although New Jersey law requires that property in a divorce be divided in an equitable manner, in the majority of cases, the term “equitable” usually results in property being divided equally between the parties. Of course, it is extremely difficult to divide household items and furnishings in an “equal” manner and thus, with respect to same, household items and furnishings are usually divided equitably, or the items are sold and the proceeds equally divided between the parties.
If you have any questions as to how property would be divided in your particular matter, I would schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney, who can sit with you to discuss the circumstances. [Posted by Lynda Picinic, Esq.]