Experienced South Jersey Lawyer Helps Clients in Property Division
New Jersey law firm ensures the rights of divorcing spouses are protected
One of the most contentious issues in divorce is who gets what property of the marriage. When divorcing spouses can’t agree on how assets and debts will be divided, a judge will decide based on New Jersey’s equitable distribution law. At The Law Offices of Kelli M. Martone in Haddon Heights, I assist South Jersey residents in identification, valuation and division of marital property with a view toward achieving a fair and workable outcome.
What is marital property in New Jersey?
Equitable distribution means a fair division of marital property. This includes most but not all assets and debts that either spouse acquired or assumed during the marriage, such as real estate, cars, boats, bank accounts, investments, pension funds and business ownership shares. My law firm will make a careful analysis of your net worth to determine which property is subject to equitable distribution.
What is separate property in New Jersey?
Separate property generally includes assets and debts held by either spouse before marriage. Inheritances and gifts received by either spouse during the marriage are also typically considered separate property. However, sometimes the line between marital and separate property can be blurred. Assets that originated separately can become marital property if they are commingled with marital assets or are used for joint purposes. One spouse’s contributions to an asset owned by the other — such as helping pay off a home mortgage loan or financing home renovations — can convert the asset into marital property. Careful accounting of deposits and expenditures can make it easier to track separate assets and so to exempt them from equitable distribution.
Equitable distribution factors in New Jersey
In equitable distribution, marital property is divided fairly but not always 50/50. If the spouses cannot agree on a plan for splitting assets and debts, a New Jersey judge will base the division on a wide variety of factors, which include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The standard of living the couple shared during the marriage
- Each spouse’s economic situation, including their income and earning potential
- How each spouse contributed to acquiring, preserving or improving the marital property, including a spouse’s contributions as a homemaker
- Whether one spouse supported the other’s education, training or earning power
- A custodial parent’s need to occupy the marital residence for the child’s best interests
- Whether one spouse gambled or wasted marital assets, such as in an extramarital affair
In order for assets and debts to be equitably divided, their value must be determined. It may be fairly obvious what a bank account is worth, but other types of property can have subjective or fluctuating values. The parties may need to consult with real estate appraisers, financial analysts and other experts to arrive at accurate assessments. I can help you during this process, resolving disputes about value that often arise.
How prenuptial agreements affect equitable distribution
Prenuptial agreements are written specifically to govern the division of property, payment of alimony and settlement of other financial issues should the couple ever divorce. The terms of a prenup generally will be honored during equitable distribution unless found to unconscionable or the result of deceit or undue influence. I can advise you whether the validity of your existing prenuptial agreement could be challenged during your divorce. My firm also drafts prenups for couples entering marriage.
Contact a knowledgeable South Jersey attorney with your property division concerns
At The Law Offices of Kelli M. Martone in Haddon Heights, I represent divorcing South Jersey clients in matters related to division of property and assets under New Jersey’s equitable distribution law. To schedule a consultation, call my firm at 856-432-4587 or contact me online.