Dividing Property After Divorce: Who Gets All The “Stuff?”
After filing for divorce, one of the main concerns many people have is, “who gets all the stuff?” Dividing property can be a dicey issue during divorce proceedings, especially as most couples share ownership of significant amounts of assets. Each state has different regulations when it comes to splitting assets and dividing debt between ex-spouses. In New Jersey, the general principle that the courts follow is known as “equitable distribution.”
What is Equitable Distribution?
The principle behind equitable distribution is simple, but it is not always so straightforward in practice. Essentially, equitable distribution means that a couple’s assets and debts are divided in a way that the judge deems even and fair between the two parties. What constitutes a fair divide is debatable, but some of the factors the judge will consider include the following:
· The couple’s assets and debts
· Whether one spouse sacrificed economic opportunities to raise children
· The tax consequences of splitting assets the couple owns, or dividing the debt they may have accumulated
· Each partner’s economic circumstances, health condition, and age
· Whether it makes sense for one partner to keep specific property, such as their house
Other Issues When It Comes to Dividing Property
As you might imagine, dividing property can be a complicated process. Here are a few specific issues to consider when it comes to splitting assets:
· Property Agreements. If you’re on relatively friendly terms with your soon-to-be-ex, you may decide to work together to come up with an amicable way to split your belongings. In such a case, you will sign a property agreement that officially dictates the division of property. Otherwise, the division will be made by a judge during the divorce proceedings.
· Marital Property vs. Separate Property. Even if you’re married, you may have assets that are obviously just yours. Either you owned them before you got married, or they were given specifically to you. In general, separate property always remains with the individual owner, while married property is divided equitably between the two parties. In some cases, though, the dividing line between marital and separate property can be blurry, which can lead to complications. In this situation, it’s best to have a divorce attorney in your corner, to fight for what is rightfully yours.
· Equalization Payments. Equalization payments are made when one spouse retains a significant asset, such as a house, during the divorce proceedings. In such cases, that spouse may have to pay their former partner a certain amount of money to balance out the agreement. If the spouse doesn’t have enough money to make equalization payments, the judge may work out an alternative arrangement, such as future installment payments.
When it comes to dividing property, matters can get complicated…and fast! It’s important to hire an experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with the many complexities of a divorce proceeding.
At Lazor Rantas, PC, we have decades of experience guiding our clients through the often-difficult process of dividing up their most prized belongings. Contact us today to find out more and get started protecting your future. Give us a call at 973-457-8844 or fill out the contact form below.