Equitable Distribution of Property
Factors Affecting the Equitable Distribution of Property in New Jersey
Most, if not all, couples acquire assets throughout their marriages. When contemplating divorce, individuals want to understand how the Courts will divide marital assets that are subject to “equitable distribution.” Equitable Distribution includes all assets with a monetary value, including but not limited to retirement assets, the marital residence, vehicles, furniture and other household items.
First, both parties will complete a Case Information Statement (CIS) which the Court relies on to identify and value assets. It is necessary to provide the court with accurate documentation relating all marital assets, as those are generally subjected to distribution.
Second, the Court will look to the parties to reach an agreement about distribution of marital assets. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the Court examines the following factors when attempting to equitably distributing assets:
- Length of marriage
- Marital standard of living
- Age and health (physical and emotional) of each spouse
- Relative education of spouses (for example one spouse may need to further his or her education to become self-supporting)
- Whether one spouse deferred career goals to tend to the family (homemaker contributions)
- Value of separate property or debt
- Tax effects of property distribution on each spouses’ finances
- Whether trusts must be established for dependent children, for example if the children have special medical needs
- Any pre- or post-nuptial agreements
- Each spouses’ income and earning capacity
- Each spouses’ debts and liabilities
- Any other relevant factor
It is important to remember that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. The Court considers the above factors so the property can be divided up fairly. For example, if one spouse is does not have an income but is a homemaker, the court will take that into consideration when attempting to determine how much each spouse will get in retirement assets. The court operates under the assumption that the property acquired during the marriage was done so as a joint effort between spouses. Thus, the property is not automatically divided up 50-50, however, it will be divided up by what is fair in the eyes of the court.
If you or someone you know is filing for a divorce and wants guidance as to the division of property, please contact the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled team of attorneys are here to help you. For a free consultation please contact us online or call us at (908) 575-9777.