Distribution of Marital Assets
You Get What You Get: Distribution of Marital Assets in a Divorce
In addition to the emotional weight and financial strain that can come with a divorce, spouses must also grapple with the distribution of marital assets. Marriage involves the joining of two lives, and just as it is difficult to untangle that bond in a divorce, redistributing assets can be just as challenging, if not more so. Who gets what in a divorce may be simple when it comes to dividing books or clothes, but these decisions are not nearly as clear-cut with possessions such as furniture and motor vehicles. Real estate, bank accounts, and other monetary matters are even more complicated to redistribute.
As you begin the proceedings with your New Jersey divorce attorney, remember to advocate for yourself and your interests as you and your spouse negotiate about the division of assets. You can expect the following rules of thumb to apply.
1. A 50/50 Split Is the Ideal, Not the Rule.
New Jersey follows the equitable distribution principle when considering marital property. This entails that any assets acquired between the date of the marriage and the date that one party filed a complaint for divorce are subject to be distributed “equitably.” This distribution of marital assets can often mean 50/50, though this is not necessarily always the case.
2. Everything Is Negotiable…
The division of assets starts with discovery, which is a process during which both parties exchange financial information. A common misconception is that the discovery process only includes bank statements, but in fact, potentially anything could be “discovered.” Property holdings, cars and boats, gambling winnings, retirement accounts, bonus packages, stocks, and even frequent flier miles are all eligible. Depositions from employers or other parties with relevant information might be required, and there is the option to subpoena information from investment houses and insurance providers. After the discovery process, both sides come to the table with an offer, and negotiation begins. If the parties can’t come to an agreement, the case may proceed to a trial.
3. …Well, Almost Everything.
Some property will not be subject to distribution. Inheritance, such as money, stocks, furniture, and heirlooms, will all stay with the inheritor. Items clearly associated with one spouse’s hobby—for example, golf clubs, easels and paints, hunting trophies, and other paraphernalia—will go to that spouse. However, collections that appreciate, such as antique cars, coins, or artwork, all count as investments. These items will be subject to equitable distribution even if they are the exclusive passion of only one spouse.
4. Something That Cannot Be Split Can Still Be Distributed.
It is possible to reallocate possessions that cannot be physically divided. Everyday cars will also be split. To illustrate, if one spouse drives a BMW 7 Series and other drives an AMC Gremlin, the court will add the value of both cars and divide that sum by two. It does not matter who keeps which car; both spouses are entitled to half the value of both automobiles combined.
5. You May Receive Some Things That You Do Not Want.
In your quest for equitable distribution of assets, it is important to remember that almost every asset is eligible for distribution of marital assets—even those assets that neither party wants to keep. Debts are subject to equitable distribution as well as possessions, and both spouses will be responsible for paying off half of all mortgages, loans, and credit card debts.
Every divorce is different, but they all involve the reapportionment of everything that two spouses have collected over the course of their marriage. The distribution of marital assets can be one of the more strenuous aspects of divorce proceedings, but while you may not receive everything that you want, the counsel of our qualified New Jersey divorce attorney, Brian Freeman will ensure that you receive as much as you can.
For immediate guidance with your divorce matter, download our ebook – Changing Course: Guide to Divorce in New Jersey.