Asset division can be a hot-button topic for many divorcing couples, especially in a high-asset case. Understanding the fundamentals of how New Jersey law approaches division can help you know what to expect.
New Jersey numbers among the states following the equitable division approach. This method focuses on dividing debts and assets in the way that would be most fair given the couple’s particular circumstances. While in some cases this may indeed work out as a 50/50 split, in many other cases it does not.
Various factors can affect what is fair in a particular situation
The law provides a long list of factors for courts to consider when deciding division issues. Some important factors include the length of the marriage, the standard of living throughout the marriage and the spouses’ respective earning capacities.
If minor children exist, their best interests can affect distribution. For example, instead of ordering the couple to sell the marital home and split the proceeds, the judge may determine it is better for the children to stay in the home they know with the parent who has primary custody. The parent who stays may buy out the other parent’s share, or the other parent may receive another asset of equivalent value.
Contributions can be financial or otherwise
Judges looking at asset division may also consider the spouses’ respective contributions to the marriage. These include more than just financial contributions. A spouse who stays home or works less to take care of the children or takes on a supporting role to allow the other to pursue a career is also making an important contribution.
Getting the full picture
To arrive at a fair division that covers all the bases during a divorce, it is important to have a comprehensive picture of assets and debts. If you believe your spouse may be hiding income or property, let your attorney know immediately.