Defining Marital Property
Make no mistake about it, when a couple decides to get divorced, there’s plenty of baggage to sort through. Some of it is emotional drama, of course. However, most of it gets categorized as “wealth” or “assets.” The issues of “who owns what” and “who should walk away with what” are the focal points of many cantankerous divorce negotiations.
You need a compassionate, yet aggressive, divorce lawyer on your side of the negotiation table when you are working out complicated issues like equitable distribution of assets and debts. Call Ron Graziano today for a consultation about your personal situation.How Do New Jersey Courts Define “Marital Property?”
The first thing a judge will want to know when deciding which assets go to which spouse is which items are categorized as “marital property” and what’s “separate property.”
Simply put, marital property is all property accumulated during the marriage — whether purchased or earned. Even if you bought a car during the marriage and only put one of your names on the title, NJ family courts will view that car as marital property. In fact, even gifts given to one another during the marriage are considered marital property. The only exception to this rule is the engagement ring. NJ judges generally view engagement rings as property of the wife.
On the other hand, “separate property” are assets that one spouse possesses; they are assets owned before you said “I do” or after one of you filed for divorce. Also included in the separate property category are gifts you received during the marriage from anyone other than your spouse. For example, if you mother bought you a car, it can be reasoned that you are the sole owner of that car. Similarly, if you received an inheritance during the course of your marriage, that would be considered separate property. It should be noted that any interest or appreciation in value from separate property also belongs to the owner of that property.
Of course, these laws are complicated and there are exceptions to every rule. That’s why it’s critically important to hire a family lawyer who is current with asset distribution laws in New Jersey and who will protect your rights and assets.What Are the Factors Used to Equitably Distribute Marital Property?
The reason it’s important to divide assets into “marital property” and “separate property” is that, generally speaking, a judge cannot award any part of separate property to your spouse in divorce negotiations. However, marital property must be equitably divided. Remember, equitable in this case means fair — not necessarily equal. Debts are also divided in very much the same way. The judge will consider the following issues when dividing debts and assets:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The health and ages of both spouses
- What type of property needs to be distributed
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed while marriage
- Current economic circumstances of both spouses at the time of divorce
- Each spouse’s future earning capacity (based on education and experience in field)
- How much each spouse contributed to the marital home and acquisition of assets
- The tax liabilities of assets distributed
- Which spouse will be remaining in the family home
- Current and future medical expenses of each spouse
- Anything else that seems relevant to the division of assets
One thing that will have little to no impact on how a judge divides assets is infidelity. While you have every right to be hurt and angry at your spouse for having an affair, marital indiscretions are not a relevant factor when it comes to dividing assets. On the other hand, if you are able to prove that your spouse’s infidelity is directly tied to debt, a judge may decide to absolve you of responsibility for that debt.Contact a Knowledgeable Asset Distribution Lawyer Who Will Protect What’s Yours During Divorce
Camden County family attorney Ronald Graziano will fight to protect your assets during divorce negotiations. If there are certain things you want to keep, such as jewelry or a vacation home, talk to us about these items. Further, you are entitled to your fair share of retirement savings and other investments accumulated during the course of your marriage.
Contact the Cherry Hill, New Jersey office of Graziano & Flynn today for a confidential consultation about your divorce. We’re on your side every step of the way.