Equitable Distribution of Property
An accurate property settlement agreement (PSA) should include all joint assets acquired by the parties during the marriage. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, as brought about by the Divorce Reform Act of 1971 (Act). This Act was enacted with minimal language or legislative history, therefore, the meaning of property and whether it goes into the marital pot for distribution has been determined by case law over the years. In New Jersey, property acquired during the marriage (date of marriage to date of divorce complaint filing) is the property of both parties and subject to equitable distribution, minus inheritance, pre-marital property, and gifts.
Division of property and assets can be a complex and malicious issue among two parties given the high stakes involved- each party’s largest assets, homes and retirement accounts. Under the New Jersey statute, “personal property” is defined as goods and chattels, credits, money, cash, and evidences of debt. “Real property” is defined as land, tenements, and items of inheritance. Whether a certain asset is subject to equitable distribution largely depends on the specific asset, as many assets are treated differently. When high net worth parties are undergoing a divorce, a financial expert or accountant will be brought on board assisting with proper identification and value of the asset. An experienced family law attorney is indispensable in ensuring the client receives their appropriate proportion of the marital assets, which they have worked hard to obtain their entire adult lives.