His, mine and ours: Property ownership in a New Jersey Marriage

gavel and money Family law attorneys often discuss the property rights of individuals before marriage and when couples break up. For a change, let’s look at the property of Hackensack spouses during marriage. This is a good time for many individuals to think about assets, because emotions aren’t scrambled by pre-wedding jitters or dark feelings that can accompany divorce. Many couples are fully aware some marriages simply don’t work out. The realistic approach acknowledges divorce is possible, even if it’s not something either spouse foresees. Some couples enter prenuptial agreements, so there is no question about the ownership of property during marriage, after divorce or in the event of a spouse’s death. Some married individuals are concerned about the definitions of separate and marital property. Generally, the property that came with you into the marriage remains yours at divorce. Separate assets also include inheritances, personal injury judgments and gifts given to you exclusively. These conditions apply “generally” because property laws have exceptions. Your property remains separate as long as you keep it that way. Mixing separate assets in any way with marital assets changes things. Once you commingle property, courts have a difficult time deciphering what belongs to you alone and what belong to the marriage. For instance, you purchase a home prior to marriage but afterward, make improvements to the property using income – pretty much all income earned during marriage is marital property. By using marital property to enhance separate property, you have commingled assets. Apply this to a personal business, where a spouse has made a direct or indirect contribution. Your spouse might have a rightful claim to a share of the business and any value increase, due to the contribution.


New Jersey property rules can fill a lot more than this page. That probably leaves you with more questions. The right person to supply answers for your situation is an attorney. Source: FindLaw, “Managing Marital Property – Do’s and Don’ts” Aug. 12, 2014

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