New Jersey Property Division Lawyer
Ending a marriage can cause stress, worries, and uncertainty. If you are contemplating divorce, issues like who will keep the holiday decorations or pay a particular credit card bill are likely some of the last things on your mind.
Dividing property can be a complicated and time-consuming task. Protect your belongings and your financial future by contacting a New Jersey property division lawyer. An experienced divorce attorney could explain more about your legal options during a divorce.
Dividing Property in New Jersey
New Jersey, like most other states, follows the equitable distribution model of property division. As an alternative to splitting the property in half evenly, the rule of equitable distribution allows the court to divide up property in the way that is most fair for each person given their circumstances. A well-practiced New Jersey attorney could help individuals how their property could be divided and may be able to represent their interest to the other party or the judge.
Marital Versus Separate Property
A court can only divide marital property during a divorce. Any property acquired during the marriage may be considered marital property, even if only one person used or cared for it.
Property that a person owned before marrying is considered separate and is not part of the marital estate. Property that one spouse received as a gift or inheritance is also separate property and will continue to belong to that person alone after a divorce.
In some cases, separate property may turn into marital property. When one spouse adds to or increases the value of separate property, it may lose its protected status. For example, if a person owned a house prior to marriage, it would be separate property. It should be noted that if that person’s spouse moves into the home, helps pay the mortgage, and works to maintain the property, a judge might decide that the house is now marital property. A knowledgeable family attorney could explain the difference between separate and marital property.
Valuing Assets During Divorce
Before any property can be divided, the former couple’s assets will need to be itemized and assigned a value. The marital estate may be quite large, and this process can be time-consuming. Items a divorcing couple may need to assess include smaller things like personal property, household items, and furnishings as well as more expensive purchases like homes, real estate, and vehicles.
With the physical property that can be picked up and moved, less tangible assets must also be itemized and valued. Marital property may include retirement accounts, business interests, investment portfolios, and pensions, as well as negative obligations like mortgages, credit card debt, and auto loans.
If a former couple owns a business, real estate, or a significant amount of assets, it may be necessary to have an appraiser, accountant, or any other financial professional review the assets and liabilities in the marital estate to determine a fair valuation.
Once the marital property is itemized and valued, it can be divided. Often, parties will work out the details of the property division during mediation or in other negotiations between their local attorneys. If the parties cannot decide how to value or distribute an asset, a judge may be called upon to make the final decision.
Talk to a New Jersey Property Division Attorney
Itemizing, valuing, and dividing property during a divorce can be a time-consuming task. By retaining a New Jersey property division lawyer, you could assert your rights and interests during the divorce process. Protect yourself and your family by scheduling an appointment today.