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Equitable Distribution of Assets and Debts

In New Jersey, unlike some states, assets are distributed pursuant to an equitable distribution statute, as New Jersey is not a “community property” state. The distribution of property is governed by certain factors clarified over the years by an ever-growing body of case law. Assets that are legally acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. All assets must be divided at the time of the divorce. Along with the assets, however, comes the debt. As a general rule, each spouse is entitled to 50% of the assets and allocated 50% of the debt that was accumulated during the marriage. Additionally, if one spouse has accumulated a 401k, pension, or other form of a retirement account, the other spouse is entitled to 50% of the marital portion of same.

There are exceptions however, and we are here to help you determine what is considered a marital asset subject to equitable distribution and what is not. Real estate purchased prior to the marriage generally is not considered a marital asset subject to equitable distribution, but if the marriage is long and the mortgage is paid off during the marriage, it can be.

The marital home is often a contentious subject of divorce litigation. It generally doesn’t make sense for most families to continue to live together after a divorce. If there is a marital home that has equity, generally if the parties agree for one spouse to remain in the home, they have to either buy out the other spouse, or negotiate a fair resolution such as an alimony waiver. In situations where neither party can do this, or where neither party can agree who is to remain in the home, the marital home is often sold with each party keeping 50% of the equity. At Garces, Grabler, and LeBrocq, our attorneys are here to negotiate for you in this very important life decision.

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