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Seperating Marital Property

The state of New Jersey is what is known in divorce parlance as an equitable distribution state. What that means is exactly what it sounds like. When it comes to martial property, New Jersey adheres to a policy of fairness to both parties, not 50-50 equality of distribution. It is uncommon in New Jersey to see a divorce settlement in which all martial property is divided 50-50 down the middle. Instead, New Jersey courts attempt to make the division of property what lawyers call equitable and what we would basically call “fair.”

Distribution Of Marital Property In New Jersey

pile of money with house

Marital property is considered to be all property acquired during the term of the marriage. This means that any new property acquired by either spouse from the date of the legal marriage to the date the divorce complaint was filed is marital property, regardless of what the title to the property says.

This can include items such as furniture, kitchenware, paintings or other artwork, books or other collectibles, music collections, luggage, wine collections, stereo and other entertainment center equipment, exercise equipment and other types of items purchased during the course of the marriage. In almost all instances, divorcing couples have a great deal of marital property to divide.

New Jersey states that the relevant market value of each of the home items is what the items would sell for at a garage sale. So, once again, the option is to sell and divide the money, or to try and negotiate via lawyers, a trade of items; i.e.: one spouse takes the living room furniture and other takes the patio furniture. It may seem easy enough to do, but without lawyers, it can be very difficult to divide equally without fighting.

Separate Property In New Jersey

money with key

Separate property is considered to be property owned prior to the commencement of the marriage or acquired after a spouse files for divorce. New Jersey considers separate property any and all property brought into the marriage by one of the spouses and anything one or both of the spouses purchase after the date that the divorce paperwork is filed. Separate property also includes some property that a spouse receives during marriage, like gifts from people outside of the marriage.

 If one spouse receives inheritance during the marriage, this is considered separate property. If one or both spouses receive a significant gift during the course of the marriage, it is considered separate property; even if the gift was purchased by one member of the divorcing party for the other. Any separate property does not fall under the guidelines of equitable distribution in New Jersey.

Therefore, if you have family heirlooms, jewelry, or other collectibles that you brought into your marriage, it is considered separate property. However, be careful…if you give your mother's antique wedding ring to your spouse, it is considered a gift and therefore, has become separate property. So, it is at times important to keep your family collectibles separate from marital property.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If one spouse has some type of separate property that sees an increase in value during the marriage, then the increase can fall under equitable distribution. For example, if the husband brings to the marriage a collectable painting that is valued at $5,000 at the time of the marriage and the value increases during the course of the marriage, the increase could be considered marital property. If, at the time of the divorce, the value of the painting is now $10,000, then $5,000 of the value could be considered martial property.

Jointly Owned Automobiles

sports car

Do you and your spouse own one or more cars, motorcycles, boats, RV's or other transportation vehicles. Those are considered household items for equitable distribution purposes. You may wonder how does one determine the value of these shared items? In New Jersey the market value for any transportation vehicle is typically the Blue Book value stated for that given vehicle. This information can easily be obtained via the internet or via many automotive sales agencies. Once the value is determined, either the vehicle in question has to be sold and the money divided, or another agreement needs to be reached via negotiations with lawyers.

Getting Items Appraised

Do you have any household items that are of unusual or exceptional value? Do you have any collectors items? Perhaps these things may not really be suitable for sale at a garage sale due to their extremely high value. You do have the option of getting any item you deem unusually valuable appraised. The items which you have appraised can be sold at a greater value in a market specially geared toward their sale.

If one spouse wishes to keep what is considered a collectible or extremely valuable item, then it needs to be appraised and the spouse who is keeping the item must compensate the other spouse for part of the value of the item. Again, this can be difficult to negotiate fairly without the assistance of a lawyer.

Contact Villani & DeLuca, P.C. About Equitable Distribution In A New Jersey Divorce

As you can see, the rules regarding marital and separate property are extremely complicated and in some instances, almost every piece of valuable property has to be reviewed in order to fully determine the fair distribution of property. This is not the type of undertaking that divorcing parties can usually do in a calm and amicable fashion. That is why division of martial property is almost always supervised and carried out by the lawyers representing each of the divorcing parties. Villani & DeLuca, P.C. is here to represent your best interests and to work to ensure a truly fair distribution of marital property. We will work tirelessly during these negotiations to deliver an agreement that you feel is truly equitable.


Villani & DeLuca, P.C. serves the Ocean and Monmouth County regions of New Jersey. Our experienced lawyers are here to assist you 24 hours a day. Contact our offices at 732-965-3404 for a FREE consult.

Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 965-3404 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.

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