New Jersey divorce law follows a theory of equitable distribution when dividing up marital assets. It’s important to understand that equitable does not necessarily mean equal, as in 50-50. Once all assets are valued, the court will strive for a “fair, but not necessarily equal, division” of marital property.
The law views marriage as a shared enterprise, and deems property acquired by either spouse during the marriage to be jointly owned. Generally, property owned prior to the marriage, and third party gifts and inheritance received during the marriage, are exempt from marital property (unless the property has been since transferred into joint ownership). The burden is the party wanting to exempt an item to show exempt status.
Those are the theories, but in practice many grey areas arise. In the case of certain property previously owned by one person and that remains solely in their name – such as the house or retirement funds – it can be shown that the other spouse is entitled to a fair share of the appreciation value during the marriage.
The court will examine several factors, including: (1) the length of marriage; (2) the standard of living during the marriage; (3) the economic circumstances of each party; (4) the age and health of the parties at divorce.
While each item’s history and use is relevant, so can be the parties’ current ages and relative economic positions. At the Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, each of our attorneys is experienced) in New Jersey divorce law. We know how the courts interpret the equitable distribution statute and can help you receive your fair share of assets to secure your future.