Somerville Equitable Distribution Lawyer
Whether a divorce involves complex high-value assets such as stocks and business ownership or is limited to standard assets like homes and cars, the equitable distribution of property in a divorce can be a heated and complex affair. Unlike some “Community Property” states, New Jersey law does not, by default, split everything between the divorcing parties equally. Instead, New Jersey follows the concept of Equitable Distribution, which provides that all assets acquired during the marriage are to be equitably distributed. New Jersey courts look to fairness and the principles of equity in determining how property will be divided.
These concepts can be just as loose and ill-defined as they sound, making it even more important to have an experienced, dedicated, and detail-oriented Somerville equitable distribution lawyer on your side throughout the divorce process. Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney at Law, is here to help.
Dedicated Service to New Jersey Residents
The New Jersey equitable distribution lawyer at the law office of Katherine K. Wagner has over 25 years of experience representing clients throughout the divorce process. Ms. Wagner will help you identify all assets that are subject to distribution, ensure that your spouse does not hide anything from the divorce court, and fight for your right to keep the marital assets that you deserve. While New Jersey courts often choose to divide assets acquired during a marriage equally between the spouses, where the principles of equity would call for something other than a 50/50 split, Ms. Wagner will make sure that you present the strongest argument available to protect the assets you are owed.
What Property Does Equitable Distribution Include?
Assets subject to equitable distribution are those acquired as of the date of marriage up to the date a Complaint for Divorce is filed (or a mutually chosen date if a divorce action is not going to be filed right away). These assets are known as “marital property.”
Equitable Distribution includes not only “big ticket” items, such as the equity in a home and balances in bank accounts. It also includes items such as:
- Savings accounts
- Investment accounts
- 401(k) plans
- Retirement plans (both defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans)
- Debts acquired for marital obligations
All real estate, sources of income, and other pieces of personal property are potentially subject to distribution in divorce. Ms. Wagner has even had cases where a CD collection and frequent flyer miles were the subjects of equitable distribution. And the issue of who gets the pet can sometimes be almost as emotional as custody. Ms. Wagner has worked on several cases that entailed a time-sharing plan for dogs and cats.
Equitable Distribution Factors
While New Jersey courts will err on the side of splitting marital property equally, there are many factors that the court must consider in determining the equitable distribution of property. These statutory factors are listed in N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23.1 and include:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- Any written agreement (e.g., a prenuptial agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each party;
- The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
- The contribution of each party to the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
- The value of the property;
- The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;
- The debts and liabilities of the parties;
- The need for a trust fund for medical or educational costs of a spouse or child;
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Contact a Dedicated Somerset County Equitable Distribution Lawyer
If you are facing the prospect of divorce, reach out to a detail-oriented, talented, and effective equitable distribution attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you start the process of identifying marital assets and selecting those that you would like to retain, the more time you will have to build the strongest legal argument for your side of the case. The assets you keep in a divorce can have a lasting impact on your lifestyle post-divorce.
Somerville Equitable Distribution Lawyer
Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney at Law, serves clients facing divorce, equitable division of property, or other family law issues in the counties of Somerset, Hunterdon and Middlesex and the surrounding areas such as Hillsborough, Bridgewater, Branchburg, Bound Brook and Somerset. Contact New Jersey family lawyer Katherine K. Wagner today for a consultation.