Tenacious Newark & Jersey City Equitable Distribution Attorneys Ensure Fair Property Settlements
Advocating for your rights to a proper allocation of assets
New Jersey divorce law mandates that marital property be subject to equitable distribution. This is not a pure fifty-fifty split; rather, the court applies a number of factors to the facts before it to arrive at what it considers a fair allocation of assets. The court has such discretion in how it interprets the facts and the statutory factors are so elastic that a wide range of outcomes is possible. Under those circumstances, you need a knowledgeable, experienced and skillful attorney to present your best argument. The Anthony Pope Law Firm has negotiated property distribution in New Jersey for more than 30 years. We have efficiently managed cases ranging from modest holdings to complex, high-value estates. Our Newark law firm is prepared to guide you through every step of the equitable distribution process.
Step one: identifying assets as separate or marital property
The general rule is that property acquired during the marriage is marital property. Property acquired “in contemplation of the marriage” is also marital property. In both of these cases, title is not dispositive, which means that even if an asset is held in only one spouse’s name, it is still marital property. However, gifts and inheritances received during the marriage are separate property. Separate property must remain separate throughout the marriage and not be commingled with other assets. If one spouse uses marital assets to improve separate property, the court may treat that property as a marital asset.
Step two: assigning a value to the property
The valuation of marital assets is key to a fair distribution. The couple will not liquidate all their holdings, so the when the court allocates assets that remain intact, such as real estate and ongoing businesses, it must offset and balance the total value. Couples often present widely contrasting valuations, which attorneys must argue point by point.
Step three: allocating the property to one or the other spouse
New Jersey divorce law starts with a presumption that each party made a substantial financial or non-financial contribution to the acquisition of marital property, and sets out the following factors for the court to consider in making an equitable distribution:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties
- The income or property brought to the marriage by each party
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective
- The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party
- The present value of the property
- The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects
- The debts and liabilities of the parties
- The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant
As if there were not enough elements to consider in the first 15 points, the final factor potentially opens the door to any argument under the sun. Your attorney must be fully prepared to represent your interests. You can trust equitable distribution lawyer Anthony Pope to use his experience in cases from Essex County to Jersey City, presenting ironclad arguments that give comprehensive coverage to all your property concerns.
Contact an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer for equitable distribution
The Anthony Pope Law Firm has the know-how and determination to protect your interests throughout the complex process of equitable distribution. To schedule a consultation, call us at 973.536.2346 or contact us online.