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How Does Marital Property Get Divided Part 1

There are many misconceptions about what constitutes marital property, and what does not. Some believe that property acquired during the marriage in one spouse’s name remains their sole property post-divorce. Others oHoehave the completely opposite belief that any property acquired during the marriage, from any source, regardless of whether received by means of inheritance or gift, goes into the marital pot for distribution. There are also those who assume credit card debt accumulated by one party during the marriage is not a joint liability. None of these assumptions are correct.

In New Jersey, the process of dividing marital property is referred to as “Equitable Distribution.” This means that marital property is divided between the couple in a fair manner, but not necessarily equal. Before even considering how marital property should be divided, marital property must be identified.

Under New Jersey law, any assets or liabilities (debt) a married couple acquires either individually or together during the marriage is considered marital property, no matter how the property is titled at the time of divorce. Therefore, generally speaking, assets which were inherited or gifted to one party during the marriage, is not considered marital property. Marital property can include the following:

1. Real estate purchased by the parties during the marriage;

2. Businesses;

3. Vehicles;

4. Retirements assets, such as pensions, 401Ks, profit sharing plans, stocks and bonds;

5. Checking accounts, savings accounts, brokerage accounts;

6. Household furnishings, collections, clothing, personal effects; and

7. Life insurance.

This list is by no means exhaustive. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you in reviewing the marital property acquired during your marriage and identifying property subject to equitable distribution. Contact our office to discuss your matter and the effect of equitable distribution laws in your specific case.

By Maria A. Giammona, Esq.

Source: N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1

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