Courts in New Jersey are bound to divide marital assets and liabilities equitably between divorcing spouses. In making property division decisions, a court may rely on any factor it deems relevant. The legislature has provided a non-exclusive list of factors for the court to consider in making its determination.
Among the factors specifically listed in the statute are the length of the marriage, the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the economic circumstances of the parties after the property division, any individual or joint debts and liabilities, the income of the parties and the earning capacity of each spouse. With regard to earning capacity, the court will consider educational background, work experience, training, responsibilities with regard to child care and the time and expense required to achieve a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage.
If one spouse contributed to the other’s education or training, or postponed his or her own education or training in the interest of the marriage, these factors may also bear on the court’s analysis. The court will also consider any agreement that was made in writing prior to the marriage. There is a rebuttable presumption that both spouses made a substantial contribution to the finances of the marriage. The court is required to make specific findings regarding asset valuation and eligibility as part of the asset division process.
Each divorce presents unique circumstances that may impact the court’s analysis. Those who have questions regarding the process may want to consult a divorce attorney who may be able to explain the application of the equitable distribution statute to the facts of a particular case as well as help negotiate a comprehensive settlement agreement.
Source: New Jersey Statutes, “2A:34-23.1 Equitable distribution criteria,” New Jersey Legislature, Nov. 21, 2014
Source: Findlaw, “Divorce and Property“, November 18, 2014