New Jersey is not a community property state. If you get a divorce in a community property state, assets are supposed to be divided equally. If you get a divorce in New Jersey, your assets are supposed to be divided equitably, which may not be 50/50.
Among the things that are generally considered separate property are assets and debts that you brought into the marriage and gifts or inheritances. However, you may need to take additional steps to make sure your assets stay separate property. For example, if you get an inheritance but deposit it into a joint account, it may be considered shared property for the purposes of property division in a divorce. To better establish that property remains separate, you should not commingle it.
Pre- and postnuptial agreements
Another way to ensure that your property remains separate is with a pre- or postnuptial agreement. These can be particularly important if one or both of you own a business. It can specify how the business will be valuated and divided in the case of divorce. It can also specify what will happen with other property, and this can be a good precaution even in an equitable distribution state. Many people hesitate to get a prenuptial agreement because they feel it is a preparation for divorce. However, it can also help couples talk through their attitudes about money and learn more about one another’s personal financial situation.
Couples who are going through a divorce do not necessarily have to go to court where a judge decides how their property is divided. They might want to consider negotiating an agreement for property division with the assistance of their respective attorneys.