Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Role of the Monmouth County Court in Division of Assets

When a couple decides to end their marriage, one of the most difficult aspects is to determine how they will divide their property. Indeed, how property is divided is often fiercely litigated. In New Jersey, the role of the Monmouth County court is to divide marital property equitably.

It is important to understand that dividing property equitably is the standard, and does not mean that property will be divided equally. Rather the court will be required to consider a variety of factors when dividing property.

Whether you are considering a divorce, are already in the process of getting a divorce you need a lawyer who can guide you through the equitable distribution process and is prepared to advocate for your rights and property.

If you have questions or concerns about the role of the Monmouth County court in division of assets in your divorce case, contact an experienced and dedicated lawyer today.

What is and What is not Marital Property?

When a couple comes to the Monmouth County court seeking a divorce, the court and the judge will likely ask whether the couple has any marital property that should be divided. Marital property in New Jersey is considered to be any property that is acquired by either party during the course of the marriage. 

Couples commonly understand that a house bought together is marital property, however, marital property extends beyond things such as houses and cars, and can even include things such as 401k’s and pensions.

What is Not Marital Property

The marital property and equitable division laws in New Jersey subject marital property to equitable division, however, under these laws certain property is not considered marital property such as pre-marital assets – meaning assets that a couple enters the marriage with, such as a car, house, and even an animal.

Premarital retirement accounts are also not considered marital property. If a spouse enters into a marriage with a retirement account, the amount in that retirement account before marriage is not considered marital property. However certain things are not considered marital property.

Additionally, a person’s inheritance, as well as gifts from third parties, are generally not considered marital property.

How the Court Divides Property

New Jersey follows the equitable distribution theory for dividing any marital property, which as explained above does not mean that property is divided 50/50, rather the role of the Monmouth County court in division of assets is to divide marital property fairly.

Before the court can begin to divide property, the court must first engage in a three-step process.

The Three Step Process

First the court will identify marital property – the court will have to engage in a review of the marital property to determine what is considered marital property and what is not marital property.

After the court determines what property is considered marital property and what property should be excluded from marital property, the role of the Monmouth County court in dividing property is to determine how much the property is worth. This can be relatively straightforward for things such as a bank account, however, this can be much more difficult for things such as art, or jewelry when their value may fluctuate.

Finally, the court’s role is to equitably distribute the property. Once the court has determined what is marital property and the value of the property, the courts role is to determine how to equitably distribute the property.

Factors Involved in the Division of Assets and Debts

New Jersey’s equitable distribution statute includes many factors that affect the division of your real and personal property. Before a final determination is made, the Monmouth County court’s role is to consider a list of statutory factors outlined in New Jersey Statute N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23.1 including: 

  • The duration of the marriage or civil union
  • 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 or civil union
  • Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective
  • 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 or civil union
  • The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  • The present value of the property
  • The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects
  • The debts and liabilities of the parties
  • The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children
  • The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals and
  • Any other factors which the court may deem relevant
  • After considering all of these factors, a Monmouth County judge will then make a determination as to how marital property should be divided. However, this process can seem patently unfair to an individual who has worked all of their life for their property and now is facing losing that property.

    An experienced equitable distribution lawyer will be able to advocate on your behalf and help guide the judge to make more informed decisions as to how property should be divided.

    Contact a Monmouth County Equitable Distribution Attorney Today

    Knowing the role of the Monmouth County court in division of assets, can help you navigate the division of property process. If you are in the beginning stages of divorce, are contemplating a divorce, or are about to go through an equitable distribution hearing, having the skill, experience, and guidance of an experienced equitable distribution lawyer can help ensure your rights and property are protected. Contact a lawyer today.