While some states divide marital property equally between partners, New Jersey courts instead follow the principle of equitable distribution. As Legal Services of New Jersey explains, a judge may divide marital property equally, but a judge’s charge is to determine what is fair, or equitable, based on relevant factors.
Once a judge makes this decision, it is final. A court will rarely reconsider a property division decision, but some circumstances may qualify for reconsideration.
Compliance with the divorce law
During a divorce in New Jersey, couples must disclose all relevant personal information. Courts call this process “discovery” when each spouse exchanges documents and financial information to allow the other to get a professional assessment. This includes all business, personal, and marital assets, debt, real property, pensions, and any other relevant information.
Similarly, a judge has certain requirements for what he or she needs to consider when issuing a property division judgment. For example, the judge must consider the emotional and physical state of both parties, their financial situation, prenuptial agreements, the needs of both spouses, and how long the couple was together, among other things.
Modification of a property division order
Generally, property division decisions are final, and couples cannot change them after divorce. However, in rare cases, a court may reconsider a ruling with good reason. For example, you may discover that your spouse hid assets from the court during discovery, or you may have cause to believe that the judge made a major error in deciding your case.
If you have good reason to contest a property division decision, Legal Services of New Jersey advises you to consult a lawyer about your options. It is essential to act quickly as the state has very short windows for a motion for reconsideration. If the cause for your dispute is particularly egregious, the court may set aside the time limits.