New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that assets, property, and debt that have been accumulated during the course of your marriage must be divided fairly and equitably. In some cases involving little to no assets and debts, the process of division can be very straightforward. However, many cases involve complex issues regarding questions about the value of assets, retirement accounts, investment properties, stocks and bonds, tax liabilities, mortgage loans, and the list goes on. Whether the issues are simple or complex, our family law attorneys have the knowledge and the experience to help you with the division of your marital assets and liabilities.
In New Jersey, marital property is not automatically split 50-50. Instead, marital assets are divided in a manner that is fair. New Jersey courts follow a three-step process to divide and to distribute assets.
First, the court will identify which assets are marital and, therefore, subject to distribution. Generally, marital assets are assets that were acquired by either or both spouses from the date of marriage to the filing of the divorce. Examples of such assets include the marital home, a business, bank accounts, automobiles, and pensions.
Second, the court will value the marital property for purposes of distribution. Depending on the assets involved, this step may be as simple as reviewing some bank statements or a complicated process that requires appraisers or accountants to value a business or other assets.
Third, pursuant to 2A:34-23.1(4), in making an equitable distribution of property, the court will consider, but is not limited to, the following factors:
a. The duration of the marriage or civil union;
b. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
c. The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
d. The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
e. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
f. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
g. 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 or civil union;
h. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
i. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
j. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
k. The present value of the property;
l. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;
m. The debts and liabilities of the parties;
n. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children;
o. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
p. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Our lawyers understand the factors which weigh with the court and we will work to help you arrive at a fair arrangement regarding the equitable division of assets and liabilities. When your financial future depends on obtaining a reasonable court order, you need to work with a divorce lawyer who crafts a strategy which fits your goals. Call The Law Office of Rachel S. Cotrino, LLC at 732-987-9966 for an initial consultation.