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How do courts decide what's 'equitable'?

The property division process of divorce is often quite contentious. Considering what is at stake, from your home to future financial security, it is no surprise that people see this step as a battle.

However, one way to ease some of the contention associated with property division is to familiarize yourself with the process so you know what to expect. In this post, we will look at the factors New Jersey courts will consider when determining how to fairly -- or equitably -- divide the marital property. 

Backing up a little, understand that this is an equitable distribution state, which means property will be divided equitably. Oftentimes, each person will exit a divorce with roughly half of all the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage, though that can change based on some factors the court use to assess what is fair.

These factors include:

  • The length of your marriage
  • The standard of living you established while you were married
  • Your earning capacity as well as your ex's earning capacity
  • Each person's contributions to the marriage, financial or non-financial
  • The existence of a prenuptial agreement
  • The feasibility of training and re-entering the workforce, if you left your job to care for the home and kids
  • Custody arrangements
  • Separate debts and assets of each person
  • Any act to defer your own professional goals in favor of enhancing your ex's goals

Based on these and other factors, the courts will determine whether an even split is fair or if one person should receive a larger share of the marital estate. 

As straightforward as this might seem, prepare yourself for a complicated process. Between problems classifying property as marital or separate and securing accurate property valuations, there is a lot of room for disagreement and confusion when it comes to dividing property in a divorce. This is especially true when there are substantial and/or sophisticated assets involved.

With all this being said, remember that you don't have to figure this all out on your own. You can work with your attorney who can be a valuable resource, guide and advocate as you navigate this difficult process.

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Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A.
8000 Sagemore Drive, Suite 8202
Marlton, NJ 08053

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Phone: 856-375-1586
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