Although it can be an emotional process, divorce is also a major financial transaction. If handled improperly, you could be left without the financial stability that you need and deserve post-marriage dissolution. If you want to avoid that outcome, then you should educate yourself on the law so that you know how to make compelling legal arguments that are in furtherance of your best interests. That all starts with understanding how property is divided in New Jersey divorces.
New Jersey’s equitable division system
Under New Jersey law, the marital estate is to be divided amongst the spouses in an equitable fashion. This means that the division of assets should be fair, but that doesn’t mean that the split has to be equal. In fact, New Jersey law identifies a number of factors that can be taken into consideration when a court makes a property division determination. Those factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- The physical and mental health of each spouse
- The earnings capacity of each party
- The marital standard of living
- The debts carried by each spouse
- If kids are involved, the custodial parent’s need for the martial home
- Any sacrifices made during the course of the marriage, such as giving up education or career advancement in order to help raise children or support the other spouse
While this may seem like a lot of factors, the court is also allowed to take into consideration any other information that it deems relevant to its determination. Therefore, before you enter your property division process, you need to make sure that you’re taking a comprehensive look at your marital estate and your post-divorce positioning to develop your arguments.
Dealing with retirement accounts
Retirement accounts can be extremely valuable. As such, they are often a focal point of the property division process. Keep in mind that the overall division of your marital estate must be fair. So, you may consider giving up other assets in hopes of securing more retirement funds to provide you with long-term stability.
If that’s the case, then you’ll need to work closely with your attorney so that you can obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This order allows you to take withdrawals from a retirement account for the purpose of division without suffering tax consequences that you otherwise might face. So, be sure not to withdraw these assets until you have one of these orders.
Don’t forget hidden assets
Remember, too, that only assets that are considered marital in nature will be subjected to division. This means that you should be on the lookout for marital assets that have been hidden so as to remove them from the property division process. Here, consider whether your spouse has been controlling of marital finances, your bank account is seeing unexpected and unjustified withdrawals, or if the family business has suddenly seen extensive losses. Each of these could be indicative of a spouse hiding assets.
Develop the strong legal strategy that you need on your side
The resolution of your property division process can shape the financial landscape within which you live for a long time to come. Therefore, it’s wise to develop a strong legal strategy before sitting down at the negotiation table or stepping into court for litigation. If the thought of addressing this process on your own is overwhelming, don’t worry. You don’t have to take up this fight on your own. Competent and experienced family law attorneys like those at our firm stand ready to help you gather the evidence and develop the arguments that you need to secure the outcome that you deserve.