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Marriage is not only a romantic pairing - it is also an economic contract, meaning that all of the couple's possessions, assets and debt are legally owned by both parties. When a couple chooses to divorce, one necessary order of business is to divide and distribute those assets in a way that's fair for both spouses.

New Jersey is what's known as an "equitable division" state, which means that any marital property acquired during the marriage must be divided equally, unless the court finds that an equitable distribution would be unjust for any reason. An "equitable" distribution doesn't necessarily mean equal, however - it simply that the division be fair.

Often, divorcing couples manage to agree on all or most of the details of property division. However, if they cannot agree, they may submit their property dispute to the court, which divides property according to state law. When determining what is considered a fair or equitable division of assets, the court considers many factors, including the following:

  • The marriage's duration
  • The income/property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • Each spouse's age and physical health
  • Each spouse's income and earning capacity
  • The property's present value
  • Each spouse's debts and liabilities

Division of property doesn't necessarily mean a physical division. In some cases, a court awards each spouse a specified percentage of the property's total value, such as when a divorcing couple decides to sell a residence.

Filing for divorce in New Jersey can be complex and confusing, especially when you're also dealing with the emotions of ending a marriage. Property division is just one phase that can become contentious without professional guidance to keep you on track. Seek support from a knowledgeable attorney.

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Smith & Gaynor, LLC
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Morristown, NJ 07960

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