Moorestown Divorce Lawyers: Equitable Distribution in New Jersey Divorce
The division of marital assets in a New Jersey divorce is determined by equitable distribution. In community property states, marital property is simply divided 50/50; however, in New Jersey equitable distribution laws allow for assets and income acquired during a marriage to be divided fairly. This does not always mean equally. The process of equitable distribution is the same for the dissolution of civil unions as it is for divorce.
Ideally divorcing spouses will be able to reach a mutually acceptable Settlement Agreement detailing how their debt and assets will be divided. New Jersey divorce lawyers at the Hartman Group have the knowledge and experience necessary to protect your interests and preserve your financial stability through Settlement Agreement mediation and negotiations. If an amicable agreement cannot be reached, the divorce lawyers at the Hartman Group will argue aggressively in court for your right to retain the marital income and assets that you are entitled to under equitable distribution.
Division of Assets in a New Jersey Divorce
The first step in the division of assets during a divorce is the discovery process. Discovery includes a complete inventory of all assets and liabilities incurred during the marriage. This includes all income, purchases, and debts acquired from the day of the wedding until the day that one spouse files for divorce, regardless of whose name each asset or liability is in.
Separate property, which is not subject to equitable distribution, may include property acquired before the marriage, property acquired after the filing for divorce, and any gifts or inheritance given to one spouse. Separate property may become marital property if it is not kept separate from marital assets, or if it is improved during the marriage. Our family lawyers will review your assets in detail to determine what constitutes marital property and what may be considered separate property.
Assets typically subject to equitable distribution that must be included in each spouse’s discovery include:
- Real estate which can include a marital home, vacation property, and investment property
- Cars and any other automobiles
- Financial assets such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts, and cash
- Retirement funds including IRAs, 401Ks, and pension plans
- Life insurance value
- Furniture and fixtures in each property
- Businesses owned by either spouse
Equitable distribution also applies to any debts or liabilities incurred during a marriage. Marital liabilities may include:
- Bank loans and debts to any lending institutions
- Car loans
- Student loans, only if incurred during marriage
- Home improvement loans
- Money owed to family or friends
- Credit card debt
- Medical debt
- Unpaid utility bills
Once all property and debt has been identified, the monetary value of each asset and liability will need to be determined. For some assets, such as bank accounts, monetary value is apparent. For other assets, it may be necessary to hire experts to accurately determine monetary value. Real estate appraisers, financial analysts, and forensic accountants may be retained to assess property value, businesses, and employment benefits such as deferred compensation or stock options.
After monetary value has been assigned to each asset and liability, the court will decide how they are divided in accordance with the New Jersey Statute for equitable distribution (2A:34-23.1). Remember that this does not mean equal distribution.
Moorestown Divorce Lawyers at the Hartman Group Provide Knowledgeable Legal Counsel Protecting Individuals Going through Divorce
Moorestown divorce lawyers at the Hartman Group recognize that each divorce is unique. In order to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family, you need a divorce lawyer committed to providing sound, reasonable, and knowledgeable legal counsel that is relevant to your particular situation.
Equitable distribution criteria provide the court detailed guidelines for determining fair division of assets, but some of the court’s decisions are subjective. By hiring a reputable Moorestown divorce lawyer at the Hartman Group you can be assured that your lawyer will help you navigate the divorce process with a minimal amount of stress and a firm commitment to your best interests.
Call the Hartman Group at 856-235-4511, or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Moorestown, New Jersey office. We represent clients in divorce throughout South Jersey including those in Moorestown and Cherry Hill as well as those in Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Salem County, Cumberland County and Atlantic County.