If you’re separated or considering divorce, chances are you’re wondering which assets are likely yours to keep.
In New Jersey, assets that have been acquired “during the marriage” are subject to “equitable distribution.”
The term “during the marriage” generally includes the date of marriage through the date the divorce complaint is filed with the court.
Further, the term “equitable distribution” means allocation of marital property to each spouse by evaluating sixteen factors listed in the New Jersey equitable distribution statute.
These factors include length of the marriage; economic circumstances of each party; present value of the property; need of a parent with physical custody of a child to own or occupy the residence; and debts and liabilities of the parties.
Therefore, marital property doesn’t necessarily mean every marital asset is automatically divided 50-50, although it’s common practice to do so in many New Jersey divorces.
Certain assets, however, are generally kept by the spouse who owns them (unless “commingled” after the marriage) and include:
- Real or personal property you obtained or owned prior to the marriage;
- Property you obtained by inheritance or gift from someone other than your spouse during the marriage;
- Compensation you received for personal injuries during the marriage, except as to loss of wages or earning capacity during the marriage; and
- Any increase in the value of your separate property, unless the increase is due to contributions or efforts of your spouse or your contributions during the marriage.
Generally, however, any such property “commingled” after the marriage would likely be considered marital property and divided as such.
“Commingled” means that after the marriage, the asset was put into joint names or deposited into a joint account. For example:
- You inherit funds from a family member and deposit the funds into a jointly-owned bank or investment account to which both you and your spouse contributed. All of the inheritance may be considered marital property.
- You have a home in your name from prior to the marriage and after the marriage you add your spouse’s name to the title. There is now a legal presumption that you made a gift to the marriage and the home becomes marital property.
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