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How is property divided in New Jersey?

When a couple in New Jersey dissolves their marriage and cannot come to an agreement regarding property division on their own, a court will divide their marital property according to the rules of equitable distribution. This means each spouse does not get an equal portion of the marital assets. Rather, each receives an amount that is fair. Under this system, a spouse who contributes more to a marriage may receive more of the marital assets at the end of the marriage.

The court makes decisions about property division by looking at several factors, including each spouse's income, economic prospects, contribution to the marital property, age and emotional and physical health. The length of the marriage and the standard of living the couple enjoyed would also likely be considered. Contributions to the marital property are not always financial, so a spouse who took care of the home or raised children is also recognized for his or her efforts.

During a divorce, some property or assets may not be subject to division. Property acquired before a marriage, gifts and inheritances are usually considered separate property, and a spouse gets to keep any separate property after a divorce. However, the distinction between separate property and joint property can become hazy when there is no prenuptial agreement and belongings commingle. For example, one spouse's inheritance could turn into martial property if it is deposited into a joint bank account or used for the benefit of both spouses.

Property division can be a long and complex process. Some assets individuals may think are separate property may actually be subject to division. Consulting an attorney may be helpful during this process. No information in this article should be construed as specific legal advice.

Source: Findlaw, "New Jersey Marital Property Laws", December 03, 2014

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