When you and your spouse decide to divorce, you face a somewhat uncertain future. You’re not sure of so many things: if you’ll have to sell your home, if you’ll get to keep your Florida vacation condo or what assets you’ll get to keep from the divorce so you can move on. Many divorcing couples early on think that they will split any shared assets 50-50, but that’s not the way it works in most states, including in New Jersey.
Equitable division vs. community property
Only nine U.S. states are community property states for divorce, meaning divorcing couples split assets equally, half and half. The rest, including New Jersey, are equitable distribution states, meaning divorcing couples split assets in a fair manner, in light of a couple’s circumstances. That means couples often don’t split assets 50-50.
Some of the factors that go into deciding what a couple’s equitable distribution will be include the following:
- How long the couple has been married
- How well each spouse can support themselves after the divorce
- What the age of each spouse is and what each spouse’s general health and vocational training are
- If one spouse has taken time off from a career to raise children (in this case, the stay-at-home spouse may receive a larger portion of the couple’s assets)
- If one spouse has an obligation to pay spousal support from a prior marriage
The assets divided in divorce
The assets divided in a divorce include the following:
- Any real estate property purchased during the marriage
- Bank accounts or investments
- Company stock options
- Retirement savings
- Business assets
- Art, collections or memorabilia
Perhaps, you bought your home on your own before you were married. When you divorce, your home might be considered separate property, not part of your divorce asset division. Yet if you put your spouse’s name on the home’s title or used joint funds to pay the mortgage or renovation or upkeep costs, your home now may be marital property.
Assets and debts
Couples not only divide assets in divorce. They also must divide debts. This includes mortgage debt, medical debt and consumer debt. However, if one spouse has student loan debt, that will stay with that person.
Dividing assets in divorce often is the most difficult part of this process. It’s not only emotionally taxing, but also can become complex if you and your spouse have multiple assets from multiple sources. You should work with an experienced divorce attorney to develop a strategy to get the assets you deserve.