When a couple goes through a divorce, it is often a tiring and complex process that requires a great amount of attention. During this process, there are several legal matters that are required to be taken care of before a marriage is officially over. When two spouses combine their lives, there are many aspects of them that are intertwined. Because of this, one of the largest parts of divorce proceedings is the division of assets.
Dividing a couple’s assets between the two of them can be difficult. In some cases, spouses are able to reach an agreement on the terms of their separation between themselves and do not require the assistance of the court. Other times, spouses may disagree about which assets belong to whom. When this happens, they may go to court to have a judge settle the matter for them.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
When a couple goes to court to divide their assets, a judge is given the right to make these decisions for them. To do so, the judge must determine which assets are marital property and which are separate property. The differences between the two are as follows:
- Marital Property: All assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage. This can also include any properties from before the marriage that was converted into marital property during the marriage
- Separate Property: All assets and debts that were acquired before the marriage and agreed to stay as separate property throughout the marriage. This may include other properties, gifts, and inheritance
The distinctions between these two properties may factor into what assets are given to a couple during a divorce.
It is a common misconception that property is distributed 50/50 in a divorce case. However, this is rarely the case. The state of New Jersey is known as an “equitable distribution” state. This means that a judge comes to a decision to divide assets in a way that is fair and just for the situation. In order for a judge to do this, they base their decisions on several different factors regarding the marriage. This may include:
- The age and health of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Economic circumstances
- Each spouse’s contribution to marital property
- Any tax consequence that may apply
Generally, judges do not take marital fault into consideration when they are deciding how to divide a couple’s assets amongst them. However, they may look into if a spouse is at economic fault. If one spouse handles their assets irresponsibly, the judge may rule in favor of the more responsible spouse who can be trusted to handle these assets.
Contact our Firm
If you are going through a divorce and wish to speak with an attorney about your division of assets, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark LLC., today.