Keeping your home is most likely one of your top priorities during the divorce process. Please continue reading and speak with our experienced Bergen County family law attorneys to learn more about the equitable distribution process in New Jersey and how our firm can assist you, every step of the way.
What is equitable distribution?
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state which means that, in the event of a divorce, marital property is not automatically split on a 50-50 basis. Rather, equitable distribution is defined as the division of marital assets in a manner that is fair and equitable but not necessarily equal.
Is your home considered a marital asset subject to equitable distribution?
New Jersey courts have developed a three-step process to distribute assets. First, a court will identify which assets are subject to distribution. Assets included in equitable distribution may range from the marital home, a business, bank accounts and automobiles to stock options, pensions, and lottery winnings. Generally, courts have defined marital property to be property acquired by either or both spouses from the date of marriage to the filing of the divorce. Pursuant to case law, only assets acquired during the marriage are distributable when the marriage dissolves.
Conversely, some main categories of “separate property” include property acquired prior to marriage, property acquired during the marriage as gifts from third parties or by inheritance, or property acquired after the filing of the divorce complaint from post-complaint efforts.
In most cases, the home is considered marital property, and will, therefore, be subject to equitable distribution.
What factors will the courts consider when making an equitable distribution of property?
New Jersey courts will consider a multitude of factors when making an equitable distribution of property, including, but not limited to:
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
- The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
- Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
- The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union;
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
- The present value of the property;
- The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;
- The debts and liabilities of the parties;
- The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children;
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Contact our experienced New Jersey firm
While getting the marital home may seem to be the most important to you during the divorce process, there are several other factors to consider such as whether you will be able to afford the mortgage, the property taxes and the maintenance of the home. There are typically three options: sell the property and split the proceeds or you or your spouse can buy the other out with cash and/or marital assets. We are here to assist you in making the best choice for you and to effectuate that choice seamlessly–contact Aronsohn, Weiner, Salerno & Kaufman today to schedule a consultation.