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What does equitable distribution mean for divorces in NJ?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Divorce And Family Law |

Divorce proceedings involve many considerations. One important aspect is the division of marital assets.

In the state of New Jersey, the principle guiding this division is “equitable distribution.”

Equitable distribution

Equitable distribution does not imply a strict 50/50 split of marital assets. Rather, it underscores the notion of fairness. In essence, the court endeavors to distribute assets and liabilities in a manner that is just and equitable, considering the unique circumstances of each case.

Factors include the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse and the economic circumstances of each party post-divorce. Additionally, the court may take into account the custodial arrangements for any children and the tax consequences of the proposed distribution.

Marital property vs. separate property

The median value of an owner-occupied home in New Jersey is $355,700. A house and other assets could be separate or marital property, depending on various nuances.

Marital property encompasses many assets and debts the spouses acquire during the marriage, regardless of whose name a specific asset may be in. Separate property, on the other hand, pertains to assets one spouse got before the marriage or through specific means, such as inheritance or gift.

Debts and liabilities

Equitable distribution extends beyond assets to encompass debts and liabilities as well. Debts acquired during the marriage are subject to distribution, and the court assesses factors such as the purpose of the debt and which party benefited from it.

The role of courts

While the state encourages spouses to reach an amicable agreement on the division of assets, the court intervenes if consensus proves elusive. New Jersey courts wield discretion in determining what is equitable, striving for a fair outcome that considers the totality of the circumstances.

Equitable distribution in New Jersey divorce proceedings involves various nuances. As couples navigate a divorce, understanding the principles of equitable distribution can ensure a just outcome for both parties.

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