Division of Marital Property
Family Law • Equitable Division Property Lawyer
In the state of New Jersey, marital property is divided equitably between the parties upon divorce. This does not mean, however, that all real, tangible, and intangible property is divided according to a 50-50 split; rather, “equitable” refers to what the court believes is fair or just division given certain facts about each spouse. As a result, there are a number of issues that can affect the division of marital property and whether or not certain assets are exempt from consideration for division. Consequently, it’s essential to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can leverage and protect your interests in the division of marital property – and marital debt. At the Cherry Hill family law office of Morgenstern & Rochester, our divorce attorneys work closely with clients in order to ensure their financial interests are protected.
If you’re considering filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, contact Cherry Hill divorce lawyers at Morgenstern & Rochester today. We can evaluate your case and begin the process of tracing assets, evaluating a closely held business or requesting temporary orders to protect your bank accounts and credit.
What Factors Are Considered in the Equitable Division of Property?
Roughly speaking, there is a three-step process in the distribution of marital property in New Jersey. First, the court identifies property that is subject to division. Next, property eligible for division is valued, including any closely held businesses owned by either spouse. Last, the court will determine what is a fair or “equitable” division of these assets based on the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living each spouse is accustomed to
- The contribution of each spouse to the value of marital property
- Assets or property brought into a marriage by either spouse
- The financial condition of each spouse
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- The earning potential and work history of each spouse
- Whether or not one spouse worked to put the other through school
- The extent to which one spouse chose not to pursue a career for the benefit of the other
- Any physical or psychological disability of a spouse
- Whether a disabled spouse will need a special needs trust in the future
While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a general idea of the different kinds of factors the court will consider when dividing marital property.
What Counts as Marital Property?
In general, any property or assets acquired during the course of a marriage is considered marital property. This can include retirement funds in a 401k or other pension plan or an inheritance that has been comingled with marital assets. In the case of retirement plans, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be filed with a spouse’s retirement plan administrator, assuming the plan is ERISA qualified.
Separate property typically includes property acquired before a marriage, gifts from third parties, or an inheritance that hasn’t been comingled.
In the case of closely held businesses, matters can be quite complicated. The court may have to determine to what extent one or both spouses contributed to a business’ value or expansion.
Marital Debt and Divorce — Contact Cherry Hill Divorce Attorneys
Equally important in a divorce is the division of marital debt. If you and your spouse have joint credit cards, car loans, or other forms of unsecured debt, you are legally liable for them – even if you never use the credit card in question or drive the car a loan is for. Here, you must clearly state in your divorce settlement who will take responsibility for what debts. If your spouse takes responsibility for certain debts but defaults on them, creditors can still initiate collection actions against you and your credit could be harmed. If you assigned debt in your divorce settlement, you have legal grounds for seeking some form of compensation from your ex-spouse.
To learn more about the division of marital debt and how we can help you, contact Cherry Hill, New Jersey, marital property division attorneys at Morgenstern & Rochester today.