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How is marital property divided in New Jersey?

You are on the path to getting divorced, and the journey is bittersweet. On the one hand, you look forward to saying goodbye to your unfulfilling marriage and saying hello to freedom. On the other hand, you worry about how the divorce will affect you financially.

An especially sensitive aspect of any divorce proceeding in New Jersey is property division. Here is a glimpse at how the Garden State handles the division of property.

Division of property in New Jersey

The state of New Jersey is one of the majority of states that recognizes the equitable distribution concept. According to this concept, any property that two married individuals accumulate together – also known as marital property -- must be divided in a fair manner during a divorce proceeding. As an example, perhaps the spouse who stayed at home was not paid for this but contributed extensively to the family. A judge will take this into consideration when determining which spouse should keep the family home.

New Jersey's approach to property division is different from that of a few other states that abide by the community property concept. States that follow this principle split property 50/50, so asset distribution is generally not as complicated and subjective in these states.

What happens to separate property?

In both community property and equitable distribution states, only property acquired in the course of a marriage is subject to asset distribution. Any assets you acquired before getting married is separate property and thus does not have to undergo property division. Other examples of separate property include an inheritance or a gift.

Your rights when tackling property division

The best-case scenario is for you and your spouse to come to an agreement on how you will divide your marital property. You can work on achieving this through divorce mediation or informal negotiations, which can be a lot less stressful than traditional divorce litigation. A couple of other major benefits of these out-of-court processes are that they tend to be less time consuming and thus less costly than going to trial.

However, like many couples, you and your future ex may not necessarily see eye to eye on asset distribution. In this case, you must rely on a judge to divide your property for you. Either way, an attorney can guide you through the process with the goal of protecting your rights and best interests.

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