How equitable distribution system impacts a New Jersey divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Property Division |

Unlike some states that split everything equally, New Jersey uses an equitable distribution system. This system doesn’t always lead to an even 50/50 division. Instead, the court divides property based on what it considers fair and reasonable, taking into account various specific factors.

It’s important for couples to understand this system because it directly affects the outcome of their divorce settlement.

Just and fair distribution

In New Jersey, the couple’s acquisitions during the marriage, like houses, cars, and money, fall under “marital property.” However, the system does not include gifts (unless one spouse gives them to the other), items one spouse bought before the marriage or inheritances. The court regards these as “separate property.” Upon divorce, the court lets the owner keep this separate property. It doesn’t distribute it to the other spouse.

Dividing marital assets, debts and others

When dividing marital property, the court goes through a three-step process:

  1. Figuring out what property needs to be divided
  2. Determining how much that property is worth
  3. Deciding a fair way to divide that property

The court looks at several things to determine what’s fair. This includes how long the couple was married, how old and healthy each person is, how much money each person makes, any debts they have and how they lived during the marriage. It also considers the financial situation of each spouse, the existence of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements and the contributions each spouse made to the shared property, including non-financial contributions like housework and childcare.

For example, if one person quit their job to take care of the kids or the house, the court will take this into account. New Jersey recognizes that this kind of work is very valuable in a marriage. So, this could influence the way it divides assets in the divorce settlement.

Importance of assistance during a divorce

Divorce is rarely straightforward, especially when complex issues like property division or child custody come into play. Some can even be emotionally draining and stressful due to the high stakes involved and the personal feelings that can cloud judgment. So, divorcing couples should consider seeking a family law attorney. They can best explain the finer points of the divorce process to ensure their interests are well represented.



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