Division of Assets and Debts in a NJ Divorce
Equitable distribution is the dividing of the marital property when a marriage comes to an end through a divorce. Included within equitable distribution is alimony (post-marriage duty to support) and the distribution of property. Note that the process of equitable distribution of property acquired during the marriage is not simply a matter of mechanical division of marital assets so that an automatic 50/50 distribution of assets results.
Assets Immune from Distribution
In general, assets acquired either before or after the marriage are not subject to equitable distribution. However, under certain circumstances, the general rule has exceptions.
Pre-Marital Property – Property acquired before the marriage. An example would be stock purchases by either spouse prior to or following the marriage.
Post-Marital Property – Property acquired after the marriage. However, if the post-marital property was purchased with assets that were acquired during the hearing, then it may not be immune to being calculated as part of the marital property.
Gratuitous Transfers – Assets under this category entail two different types:
- Gratuitous transfer from third parties in the form of gifts, inheritances and intestate acquisitions; and
- Transfers between spouses made in connection with a separation.
Statutory Factors Considered
As outlined in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1, the court considers the following factors in determining the appropriate equitable distribution of marital property:
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
- The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
- Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union 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 or civil union;
- 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, or the property acquired during the civil union 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 or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple 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; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Personal Property and Real Estate
Equitable distribution in New Jersey involves both personal property and real estate. It typically does not matter whether the property was acquired individually by the husband or wife or jointly by the parties. As long as the property was acquired during the marriage it would be subject to equitable distribution. One exception includes property received by way of inheritance. The date of the filing of the divorce Complaint is often treated as the cutoff date for equitable distribution purposes, meaning that any property acquired after that date is oftentimes not distributed. Martial fault is not an issue in equitably dividing property during the marriage.
Mr. DeLuca Can Answer Your Equitable Distribution Questions
Should you have any questions about equitable distribution in New Jersey, please contact the experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Partner, Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq. is certified by the Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney (only 0.002% of NJ lawyers have this distinction) and he also has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as an Economic Mediator. Should you have any interest in divorce mediation or have questions that you wish to have answered, please call Villani & DeLuca at 732-965-3350 today for your free initial consultation. Villani & DeLuca represents clients in both Monmouth County and Ocean County.