After identifying the marital property that was acquired during the marriage, it is up to the parties to decide and settle on its distribution following divorce. If the parties cannot reach an agreement between themselves (through the assistance of a mediator or their attorneys) as to how the property will be divided, the Court can make a decision on the issue.
Under New Jersey law, the Court will consider the following factors when determining how marital property will be divided:
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse’s physical health, emotional health, and age
- any income or property either spouse brought into the marriage
- the standard of living the couple established during the marriage
- any written prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements covering property division
- each spouse’s overall economic circumstances
- each spouse’s income and earning capacity (ability to earn income based on education, training, experience, length of any absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for the couple’s children)
- the extent to which either spouse may have delayed pursuing career goals during the marriage
- any time and expense required for a spouse to acquire the education or training necessary to achieve a standard of living comparable to the marital standard
- any contributions either spouse made to the education or earning power of the other spouse
- any contribution by either spouse to acquiring, preserving, improving, or wasting marital property, including contributions as a homemaker
- the tax consequences of a proposed distribution
- the present value of all property
- the need of a parent with physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or use household effects
- each spouse’s debts and liabilities
- any present or future need for a medical or educational trust for either spouse or a child, and
- any other relevant factors.
After consideration of these factors, the Court will make a determination on the division of all marital property which was acquired during the marriage. Again, the Court will not necessarily divide everything owned by the parties equally, but will make a determination as to a fair and equitable distribution of the property.
By Maria A. Giammona, Esq.
Source: N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1