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Division of Assets and Debts

When you are preparing for divorce, you must be ready to take stock of your entire financial situation, including your shared marital property, your individual assets, and your spouse’s separate property. Both assets and liabilities are subject to division upon divorce in New Jersey, and there are other areas such as alimony in which your financial circumstances will come into play. Read on to learn about the division of assets and debts in a New Jersey divorce. Call a knowledgeable Englewood property division attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Which Assets are Subject to Division in a New Jersey Divorce?

In New Jersey, all marital property is subject to division upon divorce. Marital property includes both assets and debts, meaning that both parties can be saddled with both property and liabilities upon the divorce. Marital property covers anything obtained during the marriage, with certain exceptions such as inheritance. Separate property is property (both assets and debts) acquired prior to the marriage, and certain property excluded either by law or agreement such as a premarital agreement.

All kinds of property can be part of the marital estate, including:

  • Marital house
  • Vacation home and other real estate
  • Business ownership interests
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement assets
  • Investment accounts as well as stocks, bonds, and other financial assets
  • Vehicles
  • Credit card debts
  • Mortgages
  • Personal possessions
  • Deferred compensation plans

Both parties are entitled to a fair share of the marital estate, including both assets and debts. Homemakers are entitled to a share of the breadwinner’s compensation package, but they are also due a share of the other party’s credit card debt, even if they were unaware the debt existed. Talk to your New Jersey divorce attorney if you are unsure about whether certain assets or liabilities qualify as marital property.

How are Assets and Liabilities Divided in Divorce?

New Jersey law uses the concept of “equitable distribution” when it comes to dividing marital property in a divorce. That means that the assets and liabilities are to be distributed to the parties in a fair manner. Equitable distribution is contrasted with “community property” states, in which courts will divide property as close to 50-50 as possible.

In New Jersey, assuming the parties have not reached their own property distribution arrangement in a settlement agreement, the court will conduct a full analysis of the parties’ circumstances in order to come to a full and fair resolution. The court will consider a number of factors in making its decision, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each party’s age, physical health, and emotional health
  • Each party’s overall financial circumstances, including current income and future earning capacity
  • Income that each party brought to the marriage
  • The standard of living experienced during the marriage
  • The extent to which either spouse delayed or skipped over any career advancement opportunities in order to support the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contribution, including support and familial care, to the other spouse’s education, training, and earning power (such as taking care of the kids while the other spouse attends graduate school)
  • The time and expense it would take for each spouse to obtain the training and education necessary to reach the standard of living experienced during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s individual debts and liabilities
  • The value of all relevant property
  • The need of the parent with physical custody to occupy the marital home
  • Any other relevant factors

The court may consider any factors relevant to fair property distribution in addition to the listed factors. For example, if one asset is a family heirloom, or a family pet is much closer with one spouse, the court may take that into account when deciding upon property distribution. Likewise, if one party incurred significant credit card debt purchasing items only for their own benefit, and the other party would lack the income to cover that debt, then the first party might be given a larger share of that debt. Ultimately, the court will decide based on the principles of equity and fairness. Talk to your New Jersey property distribution attorney about your valued assets to ensure that you are not left without your treasured property in your divorce.

Advice and Representation for New Jersey Divorce Property Distribution
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with equitable division of property, child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.