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What is the Process of Equitable Distribution in New Jersey?

When a couple goes through a divorce, there is a chance that they will have to go through litigation. In the event that they do, their assets will be subject to equitable distribution. This is when the court decides what is considered a fair and just division of the couple’s assets. Contrary to popular belief, this is not usually an even 50/50 split. Spouses can often be left dissatisfied with the outcome of equitable distribution, which is why it is important to work with an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney to try and reach a favorable outcome. 

Marital Property vs. Separate Property

In a marriage, couples often have various assets. During a divorce, they are categorized in two ways: marital property and separate property. A couple’s marital property consists of the assets that they acquired throughout the duration of their marriage. This can often include real estate, cars, income, certain retirement or pension accounts, and more. 

On the other hand, separate property consists of assets that were obtained before the marriage. This can include any separate bank accounts, gifts, inheritances, and more. While separate property can usually go untouched during a divorce, marital property is subject to equitable distribution. This means it is possible to lose some of these assets to a soon-to-be former spouse. 

What is Considered When Distributing Assets?

When going through a divorce, New Jersey courts consider different aspects about both spouses’ lives separately and together. This includes parts of the marriage, personal lives, and financial situations, such as:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Property value
  • Yearly income
  • The established financial standard of living in the marriage
  • The terms of any existing child custody agreement

Can I Keep Certain Assets?

The process of equitable distribution can be stressful, as people often do not want to lose the things that they need or cherish. It is because of this that there are precautionary measures that can be taken in order to protect certain assets. One way this can be done is with a prenuptial agreement that must be drafted before a marriage. This is a legally binding document that outlines which assets belong to whom, if the spouses decide to divorce later in life. If the spouses do not draft this agreement before their marriage, it is possible to accomplish the same goals in a different document after the marriage. This is known as a postnuptial agreement. Without these agreements, it is crucial to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney for assistance. 

Contact our Firm

If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.