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Equitable Distribution

When you love someone, it seems inconceivable they would harm you.  Yet, the statistics regarding domestic violence are overwhelming.  According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, ten million people a year report an act of domestic violence by an intimate partner.  Shockingly, some domestic violence incidences result in death.

No one really wants to be the victim.  In fact, some acts of domestic violence go unreported.   Many want to think they experienced an isolated act.  After all, the perpetrator apologized and promised to never do it again.  Sadly, such assurances are not necessarily valid.

Like other parts of New Jersey, acts of domestic violence occur too frequently. Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities

One of the most useful tools used in divorce cases is the Case Information Statement, also known as the CIS.  As a matter of course, our office requests that clients submit the form in draft.  It is imperative that all assets and liabilities are listed.  Failure to do so could result in issues at the time of settlement or trial.
Equitable distribution applies to assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage.  Although premarital purchases should be exempt from distribution, your spouse may attempt to stake a claim based on the assumption that assets were acquired in contemplation of marriage.

To reiterate, purchases subject to equitable distribution are those made during the marriage.   Therefore, even if you elect to put property in your name alone, it will still be subject to equitable distribution.

Real estate, jewelry, and art collections are just some examples of items that may be divided between the parties.  Of course, bank accounts, stock purchases and pension funds all fall under the same umbrella.  Business owners will need to determine the value of their companies as they are also subject to equitable distribution.
There may be a tendency for select divorcing couples to squabble over a division of assets and liabilities.  Obviously, divorce is an emotional and stressful event.  The bottom line is that protracted disagreements may be costly.  In most cases, it makes more economic sense to negotiate the terms of equitable distribution.  Otherwise, the court will be charged with doing so, without input from either party.

Equitable Distribution Criteria in New JerseyFor many, the big question is how equitable distribution is determined in matrimonial cases.  Truth be told, this is a consideration in both high net divorces and those with lesser incomes and property.  The criteria for equitable distribution is found in NJSA 2A:34-23.1.  Of note is that determinations concerning equitable distribution are not just limited to the following list:

  • 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;

Other Considerations Regarding Equitable Distribution

The preceding list is not exhaustive.  For example, equitable distribution of the marital residence may be considered differently if one parent assumes physical custody.  An evaluation of debts and liabilities is also reviewed. It may be advisable to contemplate the creation of a trust for medical or educational costs for the parties of their children.  If one party deferred achieving career goals, this might also be part of the equation in determining equitable distribution.

Both financial and non-financial contributions are important when deciding how assets and liabilities will be divided.    Marriage is a partnership that relies not only on monetary earnings.

Even matters that appear to be simple can result in protracted litigation.  Many times, this happens when the parties refuse to compromise.  Our attorneys will work with family law clients to help them determine their best option.

Contact Us

Are you thinking of divorce or have you been served with divorce papers?  Equitable Distribution of Assets and Liabilities can be a challenging aspect of your case. Contact the Law Offices of DiFrancia & DeDona to see how the law applies to your circumstances.

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