To complete your
divorce in New Jersey, you and your spouse are going to have to agree upon –
or fight it out over – a great many things. Perhaps none will be
as stressful as deciding
asset and debt division. Few people are willing to give up pieces of property they hold dear or
that are of certain value, but marital assets have to go to one person
or another eventually. What is subject to division, and how will it be done?
Marital Assets Under New Jersey Family Law
Every state defines what is and what is not subject to division in a divorce
based on its own set of rules and regulations. In New Jersey, there is
no community property law. Everything is instead subject to equitable
distribution laws, which means that marital assets will be divided
fairly, not equally.
Assets that can be considered “marital” are those that are
acquired while the marriage existed. Exceptions to this categorization
include most gifts and inheritances. For example, if you bought a home
while you were married, it is marital property, even if your spouse has
no income and did not help pay for it. But if you inherited a home through
a relative’s will while you were married, and that will only named
you as the inheritor, that house should be separate property that is not
subject to division.
The following items are commonly divided under New Jersey equitable distribution
laws as marital property:
- Real estate property
- Automobiles and motor vehicles
- Savings and checking accounts
- Life insurance policies (exceptions may apply)
- Furniture, appliances, etc.
- Pensions and 401(k) plans
It is worth noting that a New Jersey family law court will not be able
to decide how Social Security benefits are split. This power belongs to
the Social Security Administration (SSA). Only certain marriages and individuals
who meet a strict criteria will be able to receive portions of an ex-spouse’s
Social Security benefits.
How to Keep Assets Subject to Division
If there is a piece of property you want to keep but it falls into marital
property during your divorce, then how do you keep it? You have a few
options to explore.
You could create a
prenuptial agreement before getting married that states that certain pieces of property acquired
during marriage should be considered your separate property, such as a
car you intend to buy with your own funds. You can create your own asset
and debt division plan with your spouse that divides assets however you
want, so long as you both agree to it. Or, you can try to convince the
court that it would be fairer – or more equitable – for you
to receive a certain piece of marital property for certain reasons.
All of these options might be the right one for you. To explore them in
detail and have confidence in your decision, let Moskowitz Law Group,
LLC and our Bergen County divorce attorneys help you with your case. Tell
us what you consider to be your most important pieces of marital and separate
property, and we can discuss how you might be able to hold onto them.
contact us online to begin with a
free initial consultation.