How Do You Solve Marital Asset Problems?
“Marital law” and “martial law” may be anagrams, but they do not have to feel like the same thing. In a divorce, though, spouses often feel as if they must fight over every last aspect of their marriage in order to receive what they need. One of our Morris County divorce lawyers can help to facilitate this process of handling marital asset problems, but in some divorces, it is difficult to amicably reach a settlement. For those who are facing bitter separations in the state of New Jersey, there is a protocol to follow, and this can provide structure to an otherwise disorderly process.
1. An Equal Distribution Is Not the Same Thing as an Equitable Distribution.
In New Jersey, couples undergoing a divorce do not automatically split everything 50/50. The process of dividing the parties’ assets and debts in a New Jersey divorce is called equitable distribution, which entails that assets and debts must be divided in a fair manner. Most of the time, each spouse receives exactly half of all the couple’s assets and debts. In some cases, however, the equitable distribution process is often much more complicated. There are multiple issues that spouses and their Morris County divorce lawyers must consider in order to achieve a truly equitable result.
2. There Are Explicit Guidelines for Distribution.
The New Jersey State Legislature has identified 15 factors that must play a role in determining how to equitably distribute possessions and property during a divorce. The length of the marriage is important, as are the health and age of each spouse. If the couple had made any written agreement before or during the marriage that concerned the distribution of property, this agreement would be taken into consideration.
The amount of money that both spouses had when they were first married, the couple’s standard of living, and both spouses’ current economic circumstances are also crucial. Because each party will have to live off a single income after the divorce is finalized, the spouses’ individual earning capacities, work experience, and educational backgrounds are considered. Because careers have different prerequisites, one spouse may have contributed to the education, training or earning power of the other, and any such contribution can be leverage. If a spouse was compelled to forego a career path due to marital responsibilities, distribution may favor that spouse.
Other factors include the past and present values of marital property, the taxes associated with marital property, both spouses’ debts and trust funds. In addition, the spouse with physical custody of any or all children will have a greater need than the non-custodial spouse.
3. Some Assets May Not Be Distributable…
In a New Jersey divorce, equitable distribution may not encompass certain assets and debts, such as premarital assets or debts, gifts to one spouse from a friend or a relative, assets inherited by one spouse during the marriage, and all assets acquired or debts incurred after the divorce complaint is filed.
4. A Spouse Would Have to Prove That Those Assets Are Exempt.
The spouse asserting that a particular asset is exempt must meet certain criteria in order to establish the exclusion. The spouse must present satisfactory evidence that the asset existed before the marriage, that marital funds have not been used to add to the asset, and that the asset has not been placed in joint names with the spouse.
5. Destruction of Marital Property Is Another Battle Entirely.
Sometimes one spouse will attempt to punish the other by destroying marital property. If a divorce is pending and a couple is still cohabitating, both spouses should secure all personal belongings in another location. If a couple is living apart, the spouse who has left the marital home should arrange to either remove personal items from the home or take photographs of the items. In order to claim that marital property was destroyed, the aggrieved party has to show that he or she wanted the item, that her or his spouse deliberately damaged the property, and that the item had value.
Dividing marital property is often a taxing process, and it can threaten the rapport that must exist during divorce proceedings. However, the guidelines that New Jersey has in place exist to benefit both spouses. By consulting with our experienced Morris County divorce lawyers, you will know what your rights and privileges are with regard to equitable distribution, and you should feel comfortable protecting the assets in the marriage that are rightfully yours.
Check out our Guidebook to Divorce for immediate help on solving marital asset problems.
Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to family law matters, including those relating to divorce and marital asset problems. If you want to talk, please call us at 973-459-4927 or fill out the Contact Form on our firm’s website.
David F. Salvaggio, Esq. – Founder & Senior Attorney
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: (973) 455-1220