These days, there are many more people in New Jersey who, for whatever reason, choose to live together and maintain a household long term without legally getting married.
These couples may have children together, and they may combine their income and assets in such a way that it is hard to know whose property belongs to whom, just like in marriage.
However, it is important for these couples to realize that, when it comes to property, New Jersey gives no special legal protections to people who live together but who are not married, no matter how long they have been together or to what extent they have lived as if they were married.
What this means is that if property division ever should become necessary, it will take place according piecemeal and according to this state’s property laws.
By way of example, if only one party holds the deed to the couple’s house, then, in the eyes of the law, that person is the sole owner of the house and can do as he or she wishes with it. The other party may be able to claim some compensation for their investment in the property, but that would have to be based on some sort of express or implied agreement, which can be difficult to prove.
On the other hand, jointly held property will ordinarily get divided 50-50. So, if a couple owns a joint bank account, for example, then each gets half of the proceeds should one of them wish to divide up the property. This is true even if one of the parties contributed to vast majority of the funds in to the account and created a joint account largely for convenience.