One of the main aspects of divorce is the division of material wealth owned by both parties. When it comes to the division of the house, it should be noted that New Jersey upholds an equitable distribution policy which entails that all martial property is to be divided equitably between the concerned parties.
So can you lose your house in divorce if you were the sole owner prior to the marriage? There is no cut and dry answer to this question, as a great deal depends upon whether or not contributions were made to the property during the course of your marriage by your spouse. The more important question to ask is, will the home be considered part of the marital property or not? If not, then the owner of the house prior to the marriage will keep the house, but if yes, the house will be considered part of the marital assets, and as such, subject to equitable distribution. This does not mean that you would necessarily lose the house, rather that you and your Morris County divorce attorney will need to compensate your spouse for the value of the home with other properties.
Let’s take a closer look at marital property and equitable distribution in New Jersey.
Who is the Titled Owner of the Home?
This is one of the most important and primary questions your Chatham divorce attorney will ask of you when it comes to dividing marital assets during a divorce. If you owned the property before the marriage but put the name of your spouse on the title, the property will most likely be considered as a jointly-owned asset and subject to equitable distribution.
If the home is solely titled in your name, the most important determining factor is the duration of the marriage. If the marriage lasted for a very brief time period, it is possible that your spouse would have made little to no contributions towards the maintenance and upkeep of the home, and as such, the home would not be considered marital property. If, on the other hand, the marriage lasted for an extended period of time, chances are your spouse will have a case that he or she contributed to the home, and as such the home would be considered marital property.
Prenuptial Agreements Chatham NJ Lawyer
Another very important factor to consider is whether or not an existing Morris County prenuptial agreement is in place which could affect ownership of the home. Many prenuptial agreements make provisions for ownership of properties such as a home or vacation property. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, it is extremely important that you notify your Chatham divorce lawyer of its existence, and have them review the prenuptial agreement and exactly what properties and provisions it entails.
As previously noted, even if the home is titled solely to one individual, many times a spouse can claim that through their own contributions, that home is now the property of the marriage. Time spent maintaining the home, monetary contributions towards upkeep and renovations, and personal sacrifices such as leaving a job in order to take care of the home are all valid claims which would affect whether or not the property is to be considered separate or marital. For a better understanding of the extent of your spouse’s contributions to the home, and what that would entail them during the division of assets process, speak with an experienced Mt. Olive property distribution attorney.
Defining Marital Property During a Morris County Divorce
To conclude, before any assets are to be equitably divided during a divorce, property and debts need to be divided between separate and marital. Any assets or debts determined to be separate are the sole responsibility of the owner, and not subject to equitable distribution, while properties and debt determined to be part of the marriage are all subject to equitable distribution. Just because one person paid for an asset in full does not necessarily make that asset separate, there are many factors to consider during this process, and it is important that you retain the counsel of an experienced Morristown divorce attorney in order to help you accurately and efficiently determine marital property from separate, and then properly determine the exact value of all marital property and debt so that it can be equitably distributed.
Contact a Morristown Divorce Attorney Today
Clearly, there is much to consider when dividing marital property during a divorce. Additionally, it is important to understand that equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal. Certain marital assets may have more value to one individual than the other, and an experienced Morristown divorce attorney can leverage this in order to secure a more favorable divorce settlement for their client.
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Chatham, Mendham, Mt. Olive, and the greater Morris County area to equitably and favorably divide marital assets, as well as to properly determine which assets are to be considered separate, and which assets are to be considered separate.
Any time such life-impacting decisions such as marital asset division are at stake, it is critical that you speak with an experienced divorce attorney in order to protect your interests, and secure your financial future. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys today, please contact us online, or through our Morristown office at 973-828-0829.