In the State of New Jersey, all issues related to marital property and debt that arise between divorcing spouses are either resolved via settlement or by judicial decree. In essence, if the parties to a marriage are unable to divide their property and debt without judicial involvement, then the court must do so through a process known as “equitable distribution.” Despite what many people think, equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Rather, it refers to what the court deems as fair in light of the totality of circumstances.
When parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the division of their property during a divorce, the court will have to do it for them. While this may be inevitable in some cases, we do not always recommend court involvement as it may result in the loss of property that may otherwise have been yours for the taking. With this in mind, in the event that you wish to avoid litigation and negotiate an agreement with your spouse over your marital assets and debt, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your property. These are as follows:
- Make sure to identify all of your separate property. For instance, if you received a family heirloom as an inheritance or some other item of value, make sure to segregate it from the rest of your property. Also be sure to keep a journal of all of your separate property so that if there are any questions raised later on, then you can refer to your records for clarification.
- Be ready to provide proof of your entitlement to certain property. If you were individually left money or property through a will or trust, it is crucial to keep a copy of these documents. In other words, if a conflict arises over the ownership of a certain piece of property, being able to produce said documents may help resolve the matter in your favor.
- Take an inventory of all of your separate property before removing it from the marital home. Compile a list of all of your separate property and take pictures of everything before removing it from the marital home. This way, you have accounted for your property and may substantiate your separate ownership of same should a problem arise at a later time.
- Educate yourself as to your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your marital home. Keep in mind that both you and your spouse, unless there is a domestic abuse order or some other court ordered restriction in place, have the right to enter the marital home and take your property. Therefore, neither you nor your spouse can prevent one another from entering the home, such as by changing the locks.
- Make sure to keep tabs on any property currently in your spouse’s possession that you will receive post-divorce. Meaning, if your spouse is using property that will distributed to you after your divorce is finalized, make sure that there is no balance owed on the property or any liens attached thereto.
Contact The Bronzino Law Firm to Learn More About Your Legal Options
If you have questions about dividing property in New Jersey, or would like to discuss another type of family law matter, it is important to speak with an attorney who has the experience and skills necessary to effectively represent you. The highly skilled team of legal professionals at The Bronzino Law Firm provides each and every prospective client with a free consultation in our conveniently located Brick, New Jersey office. We invite you to call us at (732) 812-3102. We look forward to hearing from you.