In New Jersey, assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. Generally, “during the marriage” is defined as the duration between the date of marriage through the filing of the Complaint for divorce, or another agreed upon date. Assets acquired premaritally, by third party gift or inheritance, or post-Complaint, are generally considered to be non-marital and not subject to equitable distribution. If you are a member of a civil union (i.e., generally a type of precursor to same sex marriage) the New Jersey’s equitable distribution law, inclusive of the factors below, applies to your relationship as well.
Marital assets are divided equitably, which might not be the same as equally. However, under our law (NJSA 2A:23.1) it is presumed, unless proven otherwise, that each party made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to the acquisition of income and property during the marriage.
In distributing assets equitably, New Jersey judges must consider the following factors:
The duration of the marriage;
The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;
The standard of living established during the marriage;
Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
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;
The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
The present value of the property;
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;
The debts and liabilities of the parties;
The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children;
The extent to which a party deferred achieving career goals; and
Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Jennifer and Erin handle a variety of equitable distribution issues, including those complicated by business valuations, bankruptcy, death of a party, undisclosed assets, dissipated assets, disputed claims of exempt assets, challenges to premarital agreements, and other factors.