Once you’ve made the decision to divorce, you’ll have a lot of different issues to deal with. Custody, child support and alimony are all common and bring with them many questions. So too does property division. How is it divided? Who gets the house? How are these decisions made? It helps to have a basic understanding of how New Jersey goes through the process.
When you file for divorce, one of the first things a court will do is to identify all of your assets as either separate or marital property. Separate property is that which is owned entirely by one spouse.
Typically, this refers to an asset that a spouse owned prior to the marriage and for which marital funds were never used. But it can also mean an asset that was a gift or inheritance, to only one spouse, during the marriage itself. Separate property remains with the spouse who owns it.
Everything accumulated during the marriage (which isn’t separate property) is considered marital property and subject to division between the spouses. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state – this means the property will not necessarily be divided evenly. Instead, the court will seek to distribute it equitably, or fairly.
There are a number of factors the court takes into consideration when it decides how to divide marital property. Among them are the length of the marriage, the income of the spouses and what they contributed to the marriage. Their ages, health, standard of living and individual economic circumstances also play a role.
All of these factors, and more, are spelled out in New Jersey law for the court’s consideration. But it can use anything it deems relevant to make its decision. If you have questions about how a court will likely go about dividing property in your divorce, speak to a professional who is experienced in New Jersey family law.