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What is Considered Marital Property in a New Jersey Divorce Case?

A significant part of divorce proceedings for a couple is dividing their property between the two of them. In doing so, the property is broken down into two main categories: marital property and separate property. It is important for spouses entering into divorce proceedings to understand these matters, as it can impact their future after the divorce in several ways. Continue reading below to learn more and retain the services of an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney for guidance during this time. 

What is Considered Marital Property?

Simply put, marital property is all the property that a couple acquired throughout the duration of their marriage. This can include a home, automobiles, certain financial accounts, family heirlooms, and more. These assets can be divided between the two spouses during the proceedings, while assets that were acquired before the marriage cannot be. However, it is important to know that there are certain exceptions to this that spouses should be aware of. This can include the following: 

  • Gifts are usually not considered marital property, even if they were acquired during the marriage. However, if the gift was later enhanced during the marriage, it may be subject to division.
  • Retirement assets that were held before the marriage that may be appreciated or been contributed to by both spouses throughout the marriage, even if the account was opened before the marriage.
  • Any property that is included in the prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or cohabitation agreement that was deemed as marital property, even if it was acquired before the marriage.
  • Trust funds, inheritances, and other assets that were gained through intestate succession are not considered marital property.

What is Equitable Distribution?

The state of New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This governs how a couple’s assets are divided amongst the two of them during divorce proceedings. While many people believe this means an equal, 50/50 division of assets between two spouses, this is not always the case. This means that, just because an asset is deemed to be marital property, does not necessarily mean that a spouse is entitled to equal half of it. 

Instead, equitable distribution uses a complex formula to determine the assets that each spouse is entitled to. This formula exists to provide spouses with a fair and just division of assets based on their personal situation. A key factor in figuring out which assets belong to whom is the contribution each spouse made towards their wealth and marital assets. These may be financial contributions or time invested into the assets. In addition to this, the court may consider if a non-owning spouse caused the asset to increase in value. These situations may cause separate property to be considered marital property. In order to have a full understanding of what a spouse may be legally entitled to, it is crucial to have the assistance of a skilled attorney. 

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