Starting the Discovery Process
When it comes to a divorce, one of the first issues that must be handled is the division of assets, starting with the discovery process. To reach a peaceful negotiation, you will need an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney to help you through this stressful time. Contact our office today.
Starting the Discovery Process | Exchanging Financial Information
In the discovery process, both parties exchange financial information. This isn’t limited to bank statements; it refers to potentially anything that could be “discovered.” This would include property holdings, cars and vehicles, gambling winnings, retirement accounts, bonus packages, stocks, and even frequent flier miles. This might involve getting depositions from employers or other parties with relevant information, or subpoenaing 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.
Starting the Discovery Process | Equitable Distribution
New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state. That means that any assets acquired between the date of the marriage and the date one party filed a complaint for divorce are subject to be distributed “equitably” – which can often mean 50/50, though that isn’t necessarily the case.
Income, bonuses, retirement accounts, and property can be distributed. The list runs much longer – you’d be surprised by things that the court considers part of the marriage “pot.” An experienced attorney can help you figure out what assets in your case might be subject to distribution.
Starting the Discovery Process | Protected Property
Some property will not be subject to distribution. Inheritance will stay with the inheritor. That includes money and stocks as well as things like furniture and other heirlooms. Items clearly associated with one spouse’s hobby will go to that spouse – for example, golf clubs, easels and paints, hunting trophies, etc. Collections that appreciate, however – like antique cars, coins, or artwork – count as investments, and will be subject to equitable distribution even if they are the exclusive passion of only one spouse. Everyday cars will also be split. If one spouse drives a BMW 7 Series and other drives a Gremlin, the court will add the value of both cars and divide that sum by two. It doesn’t matter who keeps which car, then: both are entitled to half the value of both combined.
It’s important to keep in mind that debts are subject to equitable distribution as well as assets: that could include mortgages, loans, and credit card debt. If you need any divorce information or would like to set up a free initial consultation, contact our Essex and Hudson County divorce lawyers today. For your convenience, we accept credit cards and offer evening and weekend appointments. Freeman Law Center, LLC is fully staffed with bilingual paralegals that are ready to assist you through every step of your case.