Explaining Equitable Distribution in Monmouth County, NJ

Divorce CakeIn Monmouth County and throughout the State of New Jersey, almost all divorces involve the concept of equitable distribution. New Jersey’s Equitable Distribution statute is found at N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. In laymen’s terms, equitable distribution in Monmouth County is quite simply assets that were acquired during the marriage that are subject to allocation amongst the parties.

What Property is Subject to Equitable Distribution?

In New Jersey when a marriage comes to an end through a divorce, the marital property is divided up through a process known as the equitable distribution of marital assets.  The equitable distribution of property in New Jersey involves both personal property as well as real estate.  It typically does not matter whether the property in question was acquired individually by one spouse or by the spouses jointly.  As long as the property was acquired during the marriage, it is subject to equitable distribution.

One exception to this is that any property received as a result of an inheritance is excluded from equitable distribution.  Generally, assets acquired either before a marriage begins or after the marriage ends are not subject to equitable distribution.  The date of filing of the divorce complaint is often treated as the cutoff date for equitable distribution.  This means that any property acquired after the date that the divorce complaint is filed is often not distributed.

Is Marital Fault or Misconduct a Factor in Distribution?

Generally, in New Jersey marital fault is not a factor in equitably dividing property acquired during a marriage.  There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule.  One exception is where one spouse has dissipated or wasted marital assets by misusing the property (by gambling, for example).  In such a situation, a court may assign the other spouse a larger portion of the remaining assets to help compensate for the loss of marital funds.  A court also may make an exception in situations where one spouse’s behavior was egregious or extremely shocking, as in the case where one spouse tries to murder the other spouse.

The Equitable Distribution Process

A judge in a Monmouth County matrimonial case, in determining equitable distribution of marital assets, undergoes a three-step process: (1) The Monmouth County judge must determine whether the property is subject to equitable distribution; (2) the Monmouth County judge must determine its value; and (3) the Monmouth County judge must determine the proper allocation of the asset.

The equitable distribution statute sets forth fifteen factors that Monmouth County divorce courts are required to consider prior to making their determination. Those factors include: (1) The duration of the marriage; (2) the age and physical and emotional health of the parties; (3) the income or property brought to the marriage by each party; (4) the standard of living established during the marriage; (5) any written agreements made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution; (6) the economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective; (7) the income and earning capacity of each party and educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence in the job market, custodial responsibilities of the children, and the time and expense necessary to require sufficient education or training to enable the parties to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage; (8) contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning power of the other; (9) contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation, or depreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a home-maker; (10) tax consequences for the proposed distribution to each party; (11) the present value of the property; (12) the need of the custodial parent to own or occupy the residence and to use the household effects; (13) the debts and liabilities of the parties; (14) the need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical/educational costs for the spouse or the child; and (15) any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

An integral part of every Monmouth County divorce is the division of the marital assets. It is absolutely essential that any divorce litigant become intimately familiar with New Jersey’s equitable distribution statute if they are seeking a divorce in Monmouth County. In the event you are contemplating a divorce proceeding, it is strongly recommended that you contact a knowledgeable Monmouth County family law attorney in order to ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to under the divorce laws of the State of New Jersey.

Contact an Experienced NJ Divorce Lawyer

The New Jersey divorce attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. have been successfully representing clients in the Monmouth County divorce process for over 17 years. Call certified matrimonial attorney and Partner, Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq., at 732-965-3350 today for a free initial consultation.