Are Any of My Assets Protected During Divorce?
When going through the divorce process, a major concern for almost all individuals is how their assets will be divided. New Jersey adheres to equitable distribution laws which means that division of assets is done equitably (fairly), but not necessarily 50/50. A litany of considerations may come into play when determining if any of your assets are protected from equitable distribution during your divorce. Today, our Passaic County attorneys will identify some of these factors and discuss how they may impact your equitable distribution of assets.
If you have any questions or concerns surrounding your divorce or any other family law matter including child custody, child support, or alimony, call our office today for a free and confidential consultation.
Clifton Divorce Attorneys Discuss Prenuptial Agreements and Other Marital Agreements
Our Paterson attorneys will first want to see if you and your spouse have any existing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Assuming your agreements are in good order and legal standing, they will take precedence and be enforceable regardless of equitable distribution laws.
It is common for prenuptial and postnuptial agreement to address how finances and other assets will be handled in the case of a divorce. This is particularly true for high net worth divorces or those involving owned businesses, retirement assets, complex property divisions, debts, and other complicating factors. If you do have a marital agreement with your spouse, that is the best place to start.
What Impacts Equitable Distribution in Passaic County, NJ?
If you and your spouse do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, your division of assets will fall under equitable distribution statutes. Equitable distribution is impacted by many factors of your marriage and your divorce, including but not limited to:
- Income, property, and other assets brought into the marriage by either spouse
- Length of the marriage
- Economic situation of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce
- Appreciation of assets during the marriage such as owned properties
- Age and health of both spouses
- How each spouse contributed to the financial wellbeing of the marriage, including contributing towards education, training, property value, property upkeep, and more
Wayne Equitable Distribution Lawyers Define Marital Property and Commingling of Assets
It is important to understand that only “marital property” is eligible for equitable distribution, which is primarily considered property purchased, earned, or otherwise acquired during the marriage. However, this is not as straightforward as one might think, with separately held assets potentially becoming marital property during a marriage.
For example, let’s say one spouse owned a home before the marriage, which then became the family home of both spouses. For 20 years, both spouses contributed to mortgage payments, maintenance, and made improvements to the home. By contributing and adding to the value of this asset, both spouses may now be eligible for consideration for asset division under equitable distribution laws.
Many assets are also “commingled” during a marriage, including bank accounts and retirement assets which may be placed into a jointly held account. Even with commingled assets, it is possible to show that one party is owed greater consideration due to their higher degree of responsibility and/or contribution to the commingled, marital assets. The 2009 New Jersey divorce case of Speck-Bartynski v. Bartynski illustrated this issue by awarding one spouse 1/3 of commingled investment accounts due to her lesser contributions and limited access to the account(s).
Contact our Woodland Park Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Today
The divorce and family law attorneys of The Montanari Law Group have extensive experience guiding clients through the division of assets process when going through a divorce. We believe that each divorce is unique, and take the time to understand the individual needs and concerns of our clients from local New Jersey communities including Paterson, Clifton, Wayne, Woodland Park, Little Falls, West Milford, and all of Passaic County. Our firm takes pride in protecting individual assets during divorce, saving our clients from unfair and unlawful outcomes.