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Divorce In An Equitable Property State

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One of the topics the divorce attorney in Northfield, NJ will discuss with spouses is the fact that New Jersey applies a concept called equitable distribution. In an equitable distribution state, all the property that was acquired while married is equally divided or divided in a way that seems valid and just. In other words, there are cases where the court may not think a 50-50 split of property is just and will determine a different split that it deems appropriate given the facts of the case.

The court has a lot of leeway in deciding how property will be split despite the fact that New Jersey is an equitable property state. The judge can split property 70-30 or 80-20 or 60-40 or even 100-0. There are not a lot of divorce cases where one spouse gets all of the property, but it can happen.

Deciding What is Non-Marital

The divorce attorney in Northfield, NJ will want an accounting of all spousal marital and non-marital property. Non-marital property includes property owned before the marriage plus other property like an inheritance or gifts given only to one spouse. Other non-marital property includes personal injury awards, property bought with pre-marriage funds and those funds remained separate property, and pension proceeds when the pension plan was vested before the couple married.

The divorce attorney in Northfield, NJ will carefully define non-marital property because it has a direct influence on how property will be divided. In the case of property purchased with both marital and non-marital funds, the property is usually considered to be marital.

Another situation that may arise during separation of property is where one spouse has significantly more non-marital property than the other. In that case, the person with less wealth may be awarded a greater share of marital property. The same is true for a spouse with much less earning power. In other words, the court will consider many factors in determining what is fair and just.

A Fair Distribution Based on the Facts

In fact, in an equitable property state like New Jersey, the court will also take into consideration whether one spouse stayed home to raise children and thus earned no or less money as a result. Recognition is given to the fact homemakers contribute to marital property by allowing a spouse to work outside the home and thus increasing their earning power.

Other issues influencing the distribution of property include:

>> Economic waste – one spouse spends excessively or uses money to support an addiction

>> Length of the marriage

>> Health condition of a spouse

>> Special needs of a spouse

One of the first questions clients ask the divorce attorney in Northfield, NJ concerns who gets the house. If the house is marital property, you can ask the spouse to leave but he or she is under no obligation to do so. Fortunately, in most divorces one spouse will voluntarily leave and the house disposition as marriage settlement property is discussed later. When a spouse refuses to leave a house, the situation can quickly deteriorate due to the emotional distress or anger associated with divorce. It is better to separate and then amicably discuss property settlement.

The attorney in Northfield, NJ you retain will review each asset and place it under the marital or non-marital column. It’s surprising to many people that there are so much is taken into consideration in an equitable property state. Despite the term, divorce property splits are seldom half and half.

Stephen A. Browndorf Attorney At Law provides family law, nuptial, and divorce services to Northfield, Atlantic County & Cape May county NJ.For more details on Family Law and Divorce Attorney than please visit our website.


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  • Posted On March 12, 2012
  • Published articles 6

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