Marital Estate Property
If you are in the process of divorce, you may be wondering how you are going to be dividing marital estate property. Here is what you need to know before calling our New Jersey divorce attorney for a free consultation.
Marital Estate Property | Defining Ownership
The marital estate is comprised of all property and debts you and your spouse acquired during the course of your marriage. Property and debts held by either party prior to the marriage, along with any property received as a gift or inheritance from a third party is generally considered to be “separate property,” and is not included when dividing the marital estate. Common exceptions apply in cases where separate properties are “commingled” to the extent that they lose their original identity, and cases where separate property owes an increase in value to the efforts or sacrifices of the other spouse during the marriage.
Marital Estate Property | Understanding Commingling
A commingling of separate property might be said to have occurred when a couple opens a new checking or savings account that is initially funded by one of the spouses separate accounts held prior to the marriage, but thereafter regularly funded with marital earnings. A scenario where separate property owes an increase in value to the efforts or sacrifices of the other spouse during the marriage may occur when one party expends time, effort, and money in remodeling a home or vacation property that was originally owned by the other spouse prior to the marriage.
Marital Estate Property | Preparing for Distribution
Once a court classifies all of the property and debts that comprise the marital estate, it then assigns values to each piece of property. Generally, a fair market value is assigned to each piece of marital property. The fair market value is not necessarily what the couple paid for the property, but rather the value the property would bring if it were sold on the open market in its present condition. Sometimes this necessitates the use of professional appraisals to establish that value. Once all of the marital property and debts are classified, the court can begin to distribute the marital estate in accordance with the statutory equitable distribution factors discussed above.
Marital Estate Property | Distributing the Estate
The distribution of the marital estate can be extremely time-consuming and detailed, particularly when retirement accounts and the marital home are at issue. If you are contemplating a divorce or separation, or are already going through a divorce, you need someone with experience and knowledge by your side to ensure that your post-marital life is as comfortable as possible.
If you want strong and dedicated legal support, please call our New Jersey divorce attorney today for a free consultation.