How does property division work in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | High Net Worth Divorce |

A marriage is about sharing a life with another person. You both build the life of your dreams, purchasing vacation homes, cars and maybe even a boat. You may have even invested your earnings in lucrative business endeavors and high-performing investment portfolios. All the wealth you acquired throughout your marriage is marital property.

When you file for divorce, you will have to divide these with your spouse by collaborating on a joint property settlement agreement. If you cannot agree on the terms, the court might have to decide for you. In New Jersey, judges will split marital property in a manner that is equitable and fair. An equitable distribution can be more challenging to achieve than an equal one, particularly when you have significant assets on the line.

What makes dividing marital property so hard?

First, you need to determine which of your properties are separate and which are marital. It may seem easy. However, distinguishing between the two can pose a problem when you have merged your assets and when one spouse contributed more to the property’s value. The property subject to an equitable marital distribution can include:

  • The money you and your spouse earned during your marriage
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Real estate purchased during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title
  • Cars, furniture, jewelry and artwork
  • Contributions to retirement plans either spouse made during the marriage
  • Appreciation of those contributions during the marriage
  • Gifts either spouse gave to the other
  • A percentage of a business that either spouse started during the marriage

Anything you purchased or acquired during your marriage is up for grabs, except for those you received as a gift or through inheritance. You also will not be able to divide the assets immediately. You must obtain the fair value of the marital property before calculating an equitable division. Imagine if some of the assets you own have the potential to increase in value while others present immediate and future tax liabilities.

How professionals can help you

The assets you own have financial and sentimental value. An asset may be worth much more than you realize. Therefore, you may want to hire a professional appraiser to help you find the value of your home, real estate, art collections and jewelry. A divorce may trigger your spouse to hide assets, in which case an experienced attorney can help you obtain full financial disclosure. They can also help you negotiate your settlement agreement after the discovery process.

The true worth of an asset is not always based on their face value. You need all the help you can get to receive your fair share of your marital property.