EXPERIENCED BERGEN COUNTY LAW FIRM PROVIDES STRONG ADVOCACY DURING EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF MARITAL PROPERY
In New Jersey, the process of dividing a couple’s assets in divorce is known as the “equitable distribution” of marital property. Importantly, “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal,” and there are several reasons why one spouse could have a legitimate claim to more or less than half of the couple’s marital assets during their divorce.
To ensure that you receive not only your fair share of marital property, but the specific assets you desire to keep following your divorce, it is critical to have experienced legal representation on your side. Even if your divorce does not end up in court, you will still need an experienced advocate who can negotiate on your behalf and effectively assert your right to an equitable share of your marital estate. The equitable distribution process may ultimately involve some give and take, but with the right legal representation, you can feel confident knowing that you have protected your property rights as much as possible.
REACH OUT FOR SKILLED LEGAL REPRESENTATION TODAY
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we help spouses in Bergen County and throughout the state during the equitable distribution process. Contact our law firm at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a time to speak with an experienced New Jersey property division lawyer.
KNOWLEDGEABLE PROPERTY DIVISION LAWYER EXPLAINS WHICH ASSETS ARE SUBJECT TO DISTRIBUTION
When dividing assets in a New Jersey divorce, one of the first steps is understanding which assets are subject to distribution. Any assets that qualify as “separate property” will remain with their current owner, while the couple’s shared assets, or “marital property,” will need to be divided consistent with the principles of equitable distribution.
So, what qualifies as “separate property”? As a general rule, any assets that one spouse owned prior to the marriage will remain separate, and assets acquired by one spouse through gift or inheritance will be treated as separate property as well. However, there are numerous exceptions that can convert previously separate assets into marital property – presenting one of the earliest challenges in the equitable division process.
Depending upon whether they qualify as marital or separate property, examples of assets that may be subject to distribution in divorce include:
- Residential homes owned or lived in during the marriage
- Vacation homes
- Checking and Savings accounts
- Retirement accounts such as 401k accounts, stocks, and other investments
- Business assets
- The value of one spouse’s share in a business
- Cars, boats, and other vehicles
- Artwork, furniture, rugs, and other household items
- Cash surrender value of life insurance
- Debts acquired during the marriage
When you have questions about how your assets and debts may be divided, turn to an experienced property division lawyer for answers.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH A NEW JERSEY PROPERTY DIVISION ATTORNEY
If you are contemplating a divorce and are concerned about what will happen to your assets, one of your first steps should be to set up an initial consultation with a lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances. Our New Jersey property division attorney will review your situation and help you explore the options you may have available.
In order to get the most out of your consultation, you will want to come prepared. The following sections describe several steps you can take to get ready for your initial divorce consultation.
LEARN ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS FOR GETTING DIVORCED
When most people picture a divorce, they picture a messy, complicated, and expensive process that involves both spouses airing their grievances in court. But, the reality is that relatively few divorces follow this path. Far more often, divorcing spouses can work together, using a variety of different methods to reach an amicable solution for property division and other aspects of divorce that serves each of their respective interests, as well as those of their children.
When preparing for your initial divorce consultation, you should take the time to learn about negotiation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and if need be, what formal litigation looks like By gaining a better understanding of these options, you will be better able to discuss the best strategy for your divorce.
UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES THAT WILL REQUIRE RESOLUTION DURING YOUR DIVORCE
In addition to understanding the methods for resolving the issues in your divorce, it will also be helpful to make sure you understand exactly what those issues are. In a typical divorce, the spouses will need to come to terms (either amicably or through litigation) about property division. If you have children, child custody and child support issues will also be at the forefront of your divorce. Alimony is also a factor in some divorces, but not all. Our property division attorney will look at your overall situation to counsel you about how you may be able to keep specific assets, as well as assisting with all aspects of your divorce.
COPY YOUR FINANCIAL & PROPERTY RECORDS TO SHOW YOUR PROPERTY DIVISION ATTORNEY
In order to move forward with your divorce, you will need to make sure you (and your property division attorney) have a clear picture of all of the assets and sources of income that exist as a result of your marriage and/or were acquired during your marital tenure, regardless of whose name that asset may be titled in. As a result, it can be helpful to begin compiling your family’s financial and property records and separate property information as you get ready for your initial consultation. As a starting point, it will be helpful to provide your attorney with copies of:
- Bank, retirement, and investment account statements for both spouses;
- Property deeds and titles for both spouses:
- Family business records
- An inventory of non-titled assets (such as furniture, collections, and jewelry)
- A list of items that you or your spouse owned prior to your marriage
- Tax returns, including W-2’s and last 3 recent paystubs
- Prenuptial or mid marriage agreement – as applicable
If you so happen to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, have a copy of that as well to give to your counsel. Your New Jersey property division lawyer will want to carefully review it and be prepared to defend it should it be challenged during your divorce.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT FROM YOUR DIVORCE
Getting divorced necessarily involves an element of compromise. If you want to avoid going to court, you and your spouse will need to ultimately agree on what items are to be put in the pool to be divided. Then, discuss how will those items be split.
When preparing to meet with a divorce attorney, it will be helpful to spend some time thinking about what matters the most to you when it comes to assets and property. Do you want to keep the family home? Do you have a business that you wish to protect from being divided or disrupted because of your divorce? Are there assets that have sentimental value that you wish to keep? These are just a few of the questions you will want to consider thoroughly.
Here are some of the common assets that may be subject to equitable distribution in divorce:
- Bank, investment, and retirement accounts
- Stocks, bonds, and stock options
- Deferred compensation
- Rental, investment, and international properties
- Timeshare properties
- Summer and vacation homes
- Cash (e.g., tips or revenue from selling personal property)
- Physical assets such as:
- Artwork or art collections
- High priced furniture or collectables
- Gifts from parents
- Business property and/or business equipment
- Privately held business interests.
Before dividing assets in divorce, they may need to be valued. While figures in a savings or other bank account are straightforward, understanding what a home, piece of jewelry or other property is worth is not as simple. When we work with you on your divorce, our New Jersey property division attorney can also arrange for experts to help with the valuation of property.
No matter what type of marital assets are at issue in your divorce, we will work hard to try and get you an outcome that is in line with your wishes.
WHO DECIDES WHAT IS “EQUITABLE” IN PROPERTY DIVISION?
Most divorces settle out of court, and it is up to the spouses and their attorneys to negotiate a settlement that reflects an equitable distribution of the marital estate. But, if divorcing spouses reach an impasse, they will need to go to court, where a judge will distribute their marital assets based upon an assessment of factors that include the following as described in N.J.S.A 2A:34-23.1:
- The duration of the marriage
- The spouses’ respective ages and health conditions
- The spouses’ marital standard of living
- The spouses’ respective economic circumstances following a proposed distribution
- The spouses’ respective incomes and earning capacities
- The spouses’ debts and liabilities
- The tax consequences of particular distributions
- Any factors the court believes are relevant in making the decision.
Keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive. To protect your rights, you will need to work closely with an experienced property division attorney who can assess all of the relevant factors and use the law to secure a fair outcome in your divorce.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH SEPARATE ASSETS THAT INCREASED IN VALUE DURING MARRIAGE?
For many couples – and high net worth couples in particular – a key question will be how to deal with assets that have appreciated in value during their marriage. Take as examples, stocks that one spouse owned prior to the marriage: If the stocks increased in value during the marriage, is the appreciated value considered separate or marital property? The same goes for businesses. What if one spouse had a business prior to marriage that gained in value during the marriage. Is the appreciation of the business marital property that is considered during equitable distribution? The more common scenario is if one spouse was living in a house prior to the marriage, but after the solemnization of the marriage, the new spouse moved in and the residence increased in value (e.g. appreciated). What portion of the value of the residence is actually subject to equitable distribution? What about the accumulated value? What about if there are any existing loans on the property? How does all of this get divided?
The answer to these question (and others like them) is not as straightforward as it may seem. The law calls for different treatment under different circumstances, and several factors can influence whether one spouse is entitled to a share of the appreciation of the other spouse’s separate property. A New Jersey property division attorney from our law firm can advise you more closely after examining all the facts of your case.
SCHEDULE AN INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH OUR PROPERTY DIVISION LAWYERS IN NJ
If you would like to speak with an attorney about your divorce and property division issues, contact the Bergen County, NJ, law offices of Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC. We have years of experience advocating for individuals in property division determinations and during all divorce issues. To speak with one of our experienced property division lawyers in NJ in confidence, call (201) 880-9770 to schedule a time to speak with an attorney or request an appointment online today.