What’s Yours is Mine: How New Jersey Sees Marital Assets in Divorce

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. Just call 201.419.6223 or contact us online to begin with a free initial consultation.

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