There may be a time in life when you decide to break ties with your spouse. If you choose to end your marriage, you will have to divide your joint resources and debts. Some couples can work this out independently, but for others it can be a more complicated issue.
If you currently face divorce, you may have some of the following questions: How will my marital property be split? Who decides what property division arrangement is fair? Are there specific laws that determine how we distribute our belongings? How can I protect my assets and my best interests?
Two ways to split the assets
When it comes to divorce, there are two ways to split the assets – community property and equitable distribution, which vary by state. Community property is a down-the-middle, 50/50 split of all marital property between the two parties. In New Jersey, court system follows the rules of equitable distribution, in which the court ultimately decides what is fair and appropriate for the sharing of all marital assets and debts.
Marital versus separate property
So what exactly is marital property? There are two ways to look at assets when undergoing a divorce. Assets and debts are either marital (shared) property, or they are separate property. Marital property consists of any assets acquired during the marriage. Often, homes, savings accounts, cars and vacation homes are marital property subject to division. Many debts may also qualify as marital property.
Separate property belongs to only one of the two parties. Assets you owned before the marriage, gifts, inheritances and certain items purchased with separate property may remain your rightful property after the finalization of your divorce.
An important detail to remember is that not all separate property remains so. For example, a business you owned before your marriage may become marital property depending upon your spouse’s involvement and other extenuating factors. An experienced attorney can explain whether your spouse has a right to claim a portion of it.
Where to find help and support
In some cases, both parties may be able to work together to resolve property issues regarding the divorce. However, this is not always a realistic option for two people who have a tough time seeing eye to eye. Other options exist for working together, such as divorce mediation, and when alternative dispute resolution methods aren’t a good fit, divorce litigation may indeed be the necessary path to take.
Almost every divorce and the aftermath of ending a marriage can present many financial and emotional challenges. Any steps you take now to preserve your best interests could be an immense help going forward. By acquiring experienced legal counsel, you can strengthen your support system during this trying time and increase your odds of achieving the most optimal outcome.