Am I Entitled to Half our Marital Assets During Divorce?
Division of Marital Assets Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Assets Distribution can become a difficult topic to handle, consult with experienced attorneys in Wall, Sea Girt, Pt Pleasant, Brick, Toms River and across the Jersey Shore
New Jersey is considered an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce. Importantly, equitable distribution does not necessarily mean that you or your spouse will get exactly half of all marital assets. There are many factors that go into determining what is considered marital property and what is considered an “equitable” distribution of that property.
What is equitable distribution?
Equitable distribution is a means of dividing property in a divorce. This method requires the distribution to be fair and fair does not always mean that exactly half of the assets go to each spouse. Equitable distribution does not depend upon the financial contribution each party brings to the marriage, but rather what are the marital assets subject to distribution.
What are marital assets?
All assets acquired during the marriage are considered marital assets. Similarly, all debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital debts. In some circumstances, the assets that are acquired during the marriage may be excluded from distribution. For example, in large part, gifts from someone other than a spouse, inheritances, and property acquired prior to the marriage are considered separate and not subject to equitable distribution. However, once the property is determined to be a marital asset, the next step is to determine what is an “equitable” distribution of that property. New Jersey looks at a variety of factors in considering what is equitable.
What are the factors the court considers equitable distribution?
The court must consider the statutory factors when deciding what is equitable in the distribution of marital assets. Under N.J.S.A 2A:34-23.1, the court must consider:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
- The present value of the property;
- The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;
- The debts and liabilities of the parties;
- The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children;
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
The judge will consider the above factors, as well as any other relevant factors, in order to arrive at a decision about equitable distribution. Before this decision occurs, each side in a divorce will present evidence and testimony concerning the above and will try to prove that they are entitled to a certain amount of marital assets. If the judge determines that a simple division by half represents the appropriate distribution of assets and debts, it must be done through the process of considering all of the factors outlined in the statute and any others that may apply to the individual case. On the other hand, if factors such as education, medical conditions, or childcare responsibilities have a significant effect, the ultimate result of the division of assets process may be very different than a simple fifty-percent split.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney to help you deal with Distribution Issues
If you are contemplating a divorce or are in the middle of a divorce in need of counsel, contact Bronzino Law Firm today. Attorney Bronzino and his legal team know and understand the equitable distribution process and can assist in protecting your interests in marital and separate property.