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How is property divided in a divorce?

Splitting up with your spouse upends much of your life. That includes separating all your assets, including houses, automobiles, retirement savings and other property. It may seem hard to know where to start.

Before you get overwhelmed with the idea of splitting your finances, here is some information to help you understand the basics of property division in New Jersey.

What laws guide property division?

Some states abide by the idea of community property, which means a married couple owns all property together. New Jersey is not a community property state. There is also marital property which is property acquired after a couple gets married. Additionally, separate property is property one of the partners brings to the marriage, like an inheritance or a gift. When a couple divorces, separate property holdings will not be divided. It remains separately owned property.

Since New Jersey does not recognize community property, it goes by the standard of equitable distribution. With equitable distribution, the court oversees the division of marital assets in a way it deems fair. This division may or may not be a 50/50 distribution. The court uses certain factors to determine the fair distribution of property.

Factors that determine equitable distribution:

  • Length of marriage
  • Age and health of each partner
  • Income of each party
  • Married standard of living
  • Economic means of each party to maintain the standard of living
  • The contribution to the marital assets, which includes if one spouse worked as a homemaker
  • There may be other mitigating circumstances the court takes into account

Fault is typically not a factor of property division in New Jersey. In other words, if one party commits adultery that does not affect property division. There are exceptions, of course. If one party committed adultery and wasted a significant amount of marital assets, it could be considered relevant.

If you are going through a divorce, you can contact an attorney who specializes in family law, particularly if you have a large amount of assets to split.

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