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What Is Equitable Distribution?

April 13, 2021

After couples file for divorce, there are other hard decisions that still need to be made. These couples may choose to undergo their divorce in private through mediation. Other couples may not be able to go through the process of mediation. This can lead them to enter into litigation. During court sessions, a judge will make decisions regarding factors involved in the marriage. This can include child custody, child support, alimony and the division of property between the spouses. When the court is involved with these decisions, they practice equitable distribution.

Equitable distribution is a concept that courts use when dividing marital assets between spouses. The state of New Jersey continues to practice equitable distribution. It does not mean that the judge will split the assets evenly among the spouses. Instead, it divides the assets in a fair and just manner. The judge will assess factors, such as each party’s contribution to the marital property, their health, their age, tax consequences and economic status associated with each party. After considering all these factors, the judge will make their decision. Since each marriage is different and the number of assets involved differ, these cases can be vastly different from one another.

How Are Marital Property and Separate Property Categorized?

In order to divide the assets among both spouses, the court will need to categorize assets into marital property and separate property. Marital property is considered to be assets that were acquired during the marriage between the two individuals. In comparison, separate property is something that was not a part of their marriage. This may include a spouse’s inheritance or any personal gifts they received. Once assets are separated into two categories, the judge can use equitable distribution to determine the division of marital property.

Can Fault in A Marriage Impact Distribution?

Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, some individuals may still claim fault when filing for divorce. However, this may not have an impact on the division of assets between the spouses. Equitable distribution is the main goal in mind for judges. Economic impact related to the fault claim may be the only reason that judges will consider a different approach. For example, if a spouse spent money to waste away assets in preparation for a divorce, it may impact their share of the assets that get distributed.

Juan C. Velasco, Esq. is a trusted attorney who concentrates on bankruptcy, family law, real estate, and estate matters who has been serving the New Jersey area for over 25 years. If you are in need of experienced legal counsel, please contact Velasco Law Office and we will be happy to assist you.