Tag: marital property

Divorce and Marital Property Law Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

Most couples who begin a divorce are unprepared and not even on the same page when they begin.

Divorce and Marital Propery Law Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJThis lack of preparedness and readiness for divorce causes divorces to deteriorate into competitive contests, especially when it comes to dividing assets.

Also known as equitable distribution, property division divides property rights and obligations between spouses during a divorce. Property division may be agreed upon between the spouses through a property settlement or decided in court during the judicial process of divorce. The property division process is affected by state laws such as community property laws, definitions of marital contributions, etc.

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, and only property acquired during the course of the marriage is subject to division following divorce. Some factors considered by New Jersey courts in a property division case include non-monetary contributions, contributions to a partner’s education, economic misconduct, and a list of other factors defined in New Jersey law.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for determining property division in the state of New Jersey?

New Jersey has a list of factors set by statute that specify what the court will use to determine a fair property division. Examples of factors that are often taken into consideration during property division cases include:

  • Marital Fault – In states that allow at-fault divorces, the fault of one spouse may be used by the judge to justify a higher percentage to the injured spouse.
  • Economic Misconduct – In New Jersey, spouses who wastefully or fraudulently spent marital assets may receive a lower percentage of the marital property.
  • Income and Earning Capacity – The court may consider each spouse’s relative gains and earning capacity, which may be affected by factors such as age, education, and health. The spouse with lower economic prospects may receive a larger percentage of the estate.
  • Educational Contributions – In New Jersey, spouses who contributed significantly to their partner’s education or earning capacity may receive a percentage of the marital property.
  • Custody of Children – If one spouse has full custody of the couple’s children following the breakup, this may result in a higher likelihood of receiving a higher percentage of the estate or certain marital property pieces (like the family house).

What do the courts in the state of New Jersey consider in the decision of equitable distribution?

The standard of living established during the equitable distribution law in New Jersey is similar to most equitable distribution states. New Jersey law directs the Court to consider fourteen factors in determining an equitable, fair, and just division of assets. They are:

  • 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 is 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 become effective.
  • The income and earning capacity of each party including education 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 and 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 the creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children.

Does New Jersey consider a spouse’s economic misconduct in property division?

New Jersey law allows courts to consider the economic misconduct of a spouse as a factor in determining equitable property division. Economic misconduct generally means dissipation of assets, which is the legal term for the wasting or losing marital funds or assets by a spouse through means like excessive spending, gambling, fraud, etc.

If a spouse is found to have dissipated marital funds in a way that injured the other spouse, the court may take punitive or restorative action by awarding a higher percentage of the divided property to the injured spouse.

Can a pre-nuptial agreement affect property division in New Jersey?

prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a binding, legal contract signed by both spouses before getting married in New Jersey. A prenup containing a property division agreement can take precedence over New Jersey’s property division laws by establishing what is considered separate vs. marital property and agreeing on how finances will be structured during the marriage and divided in the event of a divorce.

The existence of a valid prenuptial agreement can prevent a New Jersey court from having full reign to determine how assets are divided between the spouses and instead allow them to be divided in a way agreed to by both spouses before the event.

CONTACT AN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION ATTORNEY TODAY

Divorce is tough and determining who gets what does not make it any easier. At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our job is to make the process as smooth as possible.  Our goal is to help couples and families restructure, rather than destroy, their relationships through our legal and collaborative divorce services. We guide our clients to the best possible outcomes, both emotionally and financially, in the face of life’s most stressful experience. Contact us by calling (732) 812-3102.

Dividing a Family Business in Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Cases

Educating Clients in financial issues throughout Ocean and Monmouth County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey

Dividing a Family Business in Ocean and Monmouth County DivorceWhen family business owners begin the divorce process, frequently their concerns are about their financial future and how their assets will be divided.  New Jersey is an equitable distribution state.  This means that all assets are divided in an equal manner.  But it does not mean necessarily that all assets will be split 50-50. If one spouse owns a business before marriage or inherits it, any profits made during the marriage will count as marital property if the increase in profits was a direct result of the active participation of the spouses during that time. In an equitable distribution state like New Jersey, there is no fixed formula for dividing marital assets. This means that acute negotiation skills and knowledge of complex laws are a must in order to reach a fair settlement.

The Bronzino Law Firm has a great deal of experience facilitating a fair and equitable agreement regarding the division of a family business in a divorce.  Divorce can be painful and determining who gets what can be exhausting and complicated.  Let our knowledgeable team of attorneys guide you through the process to assure you the fairest settlement.

Will I have to give up 50% of my business holdings in divorce?

Not necessarily. Equitable distribution does not always mean a 50/50 split of business assets.  Several factors are taken into account such as the length of the marriage, how old each spouse is, and whether or not he/she will be able to maintain a similar standard of living as was experienced during the marriage. Any education or special classes that a spouse will need to earn money on their own will also be contemplated.

Also, if one spouse put aside their career or contributed to the marriage through further education or training and a higher salary. The amount of time and money put into the business by each spouse is also important as well as whether or not the business was established before the marriage.

Are some factors more important than others when dividing a business?

Some judges place more emphasis on the length of the marriage and marital lifestyle. For example, spouses ending longer marriages have usually contributed more significantly to a standard of living and given up more individual opportunities to work or study.

How does Equitable Distribution work?

There are three steps:

1. Identify marital property.

How does Equitable Distribution work?Marital property includes assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. Any property or business acquired before the marriage or as the result of an inheritance or gift isn’t included. A spouse who claims that any property the couple owns at the time of divorce is exclusively theirs will have to provide the documentation to prove it. This can be difficult, as separate and marital property are often combined. For example, one spouse might sell a business before the marriage and then transfer the money to a joint bank account during the marriage.

Distinguishing marital property from separate property can be complicated. If you and your spouse disagree about whether a specific property is separate or marital, ask an attorney for advice.

2. Determine the Value of marital property.

When a division of assets is required, the business is assigned a “fair market value” which is equal to the estimated amount of its worth if it were sold. Sometimes real estate specialists or business appraisers must be called in to make a fair judgment.  The court also accepts the financial records of a business to demonstrate annual profits.  Tax returns are frequently included as well.

3. Distribute Marital Property

There are many options in the distribution of marital assets.  A couple can decide to co-own the business and continue working together.  If the divorce is amicable, this is a good option.  Another option is to sell the business to a third party and divide the proceeds after debts related to the business have been paid.  A third option is for one spouse to buy out the other.  Typically, this option can be challenging due to a lack of liquid assets belonging to one spouse which would be necessary for the buyout.

This looks complicated.  What should I do?

The first thing you should do is not panic.  The process of going through a divorce is complicated and can be confusing.  You need a family attorney with the experience and knowledge to guide you through the process and make sure your assets are fairly distributed.  There are many factors to consider and other experts may be needed.  At the Bronzino Law Firm, we are prepared to make your transition as smooth and expeditious as possible.

Consult with a Divorce and Business Valuation Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt NJ Today

At the Bronzino Law Firm, we are ready to help you with your divorce settlement concerns. Let us help you obtain a division of assets that is fair to both you and your spouse.  To speak with our offices today in a free consultation about your divorce, finances, and division of family business issues, please contact us online or through our Brick or Sea Girt offices at (732) 812-3102.