Division of Assets

NJ is an equitable distribution state – meaning that the division of assets is determined along the lines of what is fair or equitable. Notwithstanding this fact in most cases a 50/50 division is used.

Everything that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage will be shared equally. However there are some assets that are excluded from the division of property. Inheritances that were not co-mingled (they were kept separate and no marital funds were used to repair/maintain them) antiques, real estate, jewelry or money. If you owned a home prior to marriage and then used marital income to fix it up it is now marital property however you may have some negotiating room to argue that you contributed more to the marriage so it is equitable that you should come away with more.

All the personal property (your stuff) is shared. How you select the items is up to you and there a bunch of different ways to do this. Each person alternates choosing items until everything is gone. To do this you need to make a comprehensive list of your possessions and then use the list to select from, building two lists, one for each of you. There can be strategy here. If your x has chosen something that you really wanted, you need to pick something that you think your x will want to trade for. Maybe you only want a few things and are willing to leave the rest.

What happens to the stuff neither of you wants? Who is going to have to deal with the junk, have a garage sale or pay to have it taken away?

Just don’t fight about the stuff and please don’t use legal dollars to fight about the stuff.

Debt and savings are all typically shared equally. Can you argue that certain debt was the responsibility of one party due to the nature of what was spent?

Did your X take vacations or go to expensive restaurants while you had to stay home because you did not have any funds? This debt could be looked at as an inappropriate use of marital assets and not be split. If your X has been living the high life you can argue that you should not have to pay for it.

If the credit card debt was used to pay for ordinary living expenses for the family prior to Pendente Lite support, it could be argued that this should be your X’s responsibility.

Pensions are also shared. However if you had a pension before marriage it is not shared. The organic growth of a pre-marital pension is also yours but you need to be able to demonstrate that number. It gets complicated if you had the pension before you married as well as after. Complicated but not impossible. Determine if the numbers are worth fighting for. Frequent flyer miles, the forgotten asset, are also split. Unvested stocks/options are also subject to sharing.

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