Read the transcript of this interview below.
How does equitable distribution work in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a marriage is considered an economic partnership, so that what was acquired during the course of the marriage is a result of both parties expending their respective efforts. Thus, the marital estate is subject to equitable distribution, no matter how property is titled. Equitable distribution in New Jersey is the division of all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage, most often defined as from the date of the marriage to the date of the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. There is a three-step process used in New Jersey to distribute assets and liabilities:
- Identify the asset or liability. Common assets are the marital home, retirement accounts, and vehicles. Liabilities are debts such as credit card balances and monies owed to the IRS.
- The asset or liability needs to be valued. This can be as simple as reviewing a bank or credit card statement, or we may need to hire an expert such as a home appraiser or actuary to affix a value.
- Once we have identified the assets and liabilities acquired during the course of the marriage and have valued them, we can apply statutory factors to appropriately distribute them. It is important to keep in mind that, since New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, assets and liabilities are divided in a manner that is fair – which does not necessarily mean equal.
Equitable distribution of assets and liabilities can be complicated based upon certain facts and circumstances, such as the asset or liability being premarital, an inheritance received during the marriage that was co-mingled, or when the parties own a business together. Only an experienced matrimonial attorney can ensure that these assets and liabilities are properly distributed.
Matrimonial attorney Amy Harris of Keith, Winters & Wenning, LLC has more than 15 years of experience and practices family law exclusively. Located in Bradley Beach, she has been admitted to both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bars. For more information about Amy or her firm, please visit www.kwwlawfirm.com.