New Jersey Division of Assets Lawyer
Divorces can be difficult. They are often contentious, emotionally draining, and filled with uncertainty. The process of dissolving the most important emotional and financial relationship of one’s life carries with it a great deal of stress and anxiety. Apart from the heartache, the process is strained by financial considerations that must be immediately addressed. One of the most critical questions that couples are faced with is how to divide the marital estate, which is comprised of all of the real properties, accounts, stocks, funds, possessions, belongings, and debts acquired during the course of the marriage.
Understandably, most couples find the prospect of dividing marital property stressful, overwhelming and complicated. At such a vulnerable time, a person needs a trustworthy, experienced New Jersey division of assets lawyer to assist them so that they can go forward as comfortably as possible. An experienced New Jersey division of assets lawyer will protect you and advise you of all necessary considerations to ensure the best possible outcome.
Dedicated New Jersey division of assets lawyer Bart Lombardo has handled countless divorces involving the distribution of marital estates, ranging from complicated multi-million dollar estates involving businesses, houses, and retirement accounts, to the simplest of estates with little marital property.
Regardless of your circumstances, our office strives to get each client the best possible outcome. We are experienced and we know the law. When you meet with us, you will find real people who you can relate to, and we are here to support you every step of the way. We assist people with their divorces full-time and have a history of excellent outcomes.
Below, is a general overview of how New Jersey treats the division of marital property to help familiarize you with the process.
How Marital Property is Divided in New Jersey
New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that the marital assets and debts are to be divided in a fair and just manner given the parties’ relative contributions and sacrifices to the marriage. It does not mean that they will be divided evenly or 50/50. New Jersey courts apply a list of specific statutory factors to determine how much of the marital estate each partner receives at the conclusion of the divorce.
Specifically, the statute says that courts must consider:
- 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 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, partner in a civil union couple or children;
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals.
As you can see, New Jersey’s statutory factors are quite extensive. The degree of emphasis a court may give to each factor varies with the circumstances of each marriage. Courts typically place the greatest importance on the duration of the marriage and the accustomed marital lifestyle of the parties. Litigating asset distribution has the potential to be a time-consuming, expensive and tedious process with an unpredictable outcome that rests in the hands of one judge as opposed to the two spouses. It doesn’t have to be. Parties are not obligated to have the court make the final decision about the division of their marital assets. They are free to negotiate the terms of their property division and iron out an agreement.
If you have any questions about how the interplay of these statutory factors might affect your divorce, do not hesitate to contact us today. We will work with you to establish a property division plan that you and your spouse can attempt to agree to, if possible, so that the decision rests in your hands rather than the court’s.
Property That Comprises the Marital Estate
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.
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.
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.
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.
Schedule A Consultation With A Dedicated New Jersey Division of Assets Lawyer
Call our offices today so that we can assist you through the divorce process and help make your life easier. New Jersey division of assets lawyer Bart Lombardo has a proven track record of excellent outcomes. We are here to take the stress off your plate and get you the best possible legal outcome. Call us today.