How are marital assets distributed during divorce?

Once couples decide on getting a divorce, there are many other decisions that need to be made during the process. These couples may choose to undergo their divorce in private through mediation. Other couples may not be able to go through the process of mediation. This can lead them to enter into litigation. During court sessions, a judge will make decisions regarding factors involved in the marriage. This can include child custody, child support, alimony and the division of property between the spouses. When the court is involved with these decisions, they practice equitable distribution.

Through equitable distribution, courts use a fair and just manner to divide marital assets between spouses. The state of New Jersey continues to practice equitable distribution as a way of settling property distribution matters. This method does not mean that the judge will split the assets evenly among the spouses. The judge will assess factors, such as each party’s contribution to the marital property, their health, their age, tax consequences and economic status associated with each party. After considering factors, the judge will make their decision, which can differ greatly based on each individual marriage and divorce process.

How are marital property and separate property decided?

In order to divide the assets among both spouses, the court will need to categorize assets into marital property and separate property. Marital property is considered to be assets that were acquired during the marriage between the two individuals. In comparison, separate property is something that was not a part of their marriage. This may include a spouse’s inheritance or any personal gifts they received. Once assets are separated into two categories, the judge can use equitable distribution to determine the division of marital property.

Can fault in a marriage impact distribution?

Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning that individuals do not have to claim a fault ground when filing for divorce, individuals still have the option to claim fault when filing for divorce. This may not have an impact on the division of assets between the spouses. Equitable distribution is the main goal in mind for judges. Economic impact related to the fault claim may be the only reason that judges will consider a different approach. For example, if a spouse spent money to waste away assets in preparation for a divorce, it may impact their share of the assets that get distributed.

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