For most couples, marriage involves a lengthy process of creating a life together. While this process is often focused more on the future, it includes each person’s past as well. Once a couple decides to dissolve their union, separating their lives becomes an emotional and legal challenge.
When a New Jersey couple chooses to get divorced, they will have to alter nearly every aspect of their lives. One of the largest factors in this process is dividing their property. While the process of property division can seem intimidating and confusing, knowing some basic information about property division can make things easier.
Types of property
Most people have amassed some assets prior to their marriage. These assets can come in many different forms, but they are often different from the assets a couple amasses together once they are married.
Recognizing the difference between property that was gained before and during the marriage determines how it will be divided. There are two main types of property in divorces; separate and marital.
- Marital property
Once a couple is married, the property they amass is generally considered to be marital property. This means both parties have a stake in the ownership of it. There are some exceptions to this, but marital property is generally divided between the parties.
- Separate property
Any property a person gained before their marriage is considered to be separate property. It is important to note that there are some situations in which property gained during the marriage is considered to be separate as well.
Some examples of separate property gained during marriage include assets that were gained by trading separate property and gifts or inheritances gained from anyone besides the spouse.
Once a court has determined what property is marital and what is separate, they can begin dividing it. The main priority in property division in New Jersey is that the division is equitable. This means that it may not be perfectly equal (although it sometimes is), but it should be fair.
Before a court makes any final decisions regarding the division of property, it will consider many different factors. Some factors include,
- Each couple’s standard of living
- Health and age of the spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The ability of each spouse to find work
- The effect of the divorce on any children involved
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage
These are just some of the factors a court may consider, but there are many others. Because there is often so much at stake and the process can become very complex, it is highly recommended that people who are facing divorce obtain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional.