Deciding to end a marriage is seldom a decision that is made lightly. People enter a marriage in New Jersey with the hope that they are embarking on the beginning of a lifetime relationship. Sadly, this is not always the case as relationships mature and people sometimes grow apart. Once the decision has been reached that the marriage is unsalvageable, the task of property division begins.
When there are no children involved, this can prove to be a simpler undertaking, but it is important to understand what is at stake and how property is viewed by the court. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will look at what is fair and equitable as opposed to community property states where a 50/50 split is often considered the norm. Who owns the asset is typically not relevant as marital property is considered as jointly held, and the court's goal is to arrive at a fair and equitable distribution.
What can become important is determining the value of jointly held assets and also defining exactly what comprises the assets. If a person has been married for 12 years and paying into a retirement account for 15, the amount accumulated in the three years prior to the marriage would not be considered marital property. Determining the exact value of that account for that period of time can be difficult and illustrates the importance of keeping records of financial accounts.
When a couple decides to divorce in New Jersey, the process of ending the marriage largely becomes a business transaction. It is a process of taking assets and property that have been held jointly and apportioning them fairly to two independent individuals. It can also be a process that is fraught with emotion that can benefit from having professional advice regarding the property division.