In a New Jersey divorce, the property is divided using principles of equitable distribution. This is not the same as the presumed 50/50 split used in community property states. Instead, courts will look at the reality of each spouse’s situation and the marriage to divide the property. The judge has the discretion to use and weight different factors as they see fit.
A look back at the marriage and the future
One thing that a court will look at is the financial situation of each spouse after the marriage. The judge will consider both each spouse’s contribution to the marriage and their financial situation afterwards. This is a very flexible analysis.
Judging each spouse’s contributions
One spouse may have a higher earnings capacity than the other, and the judge will want to ensure that there is not a serious imbalance in their respective standards of living. However, that will be balanced with consideration over who earned the money in the marriage. The spouse who earned the lion’s share of the assets may receive more than half of the marital estate. Nonetheless, there are contributions beyond just financial that will be considered. For example, staying home and raising the children is also a contribution, even if it is not monetary. In addition, the judge may also take the length of the marriage and the age of the parties into account, along with any other factor that they think impacts the question.
As you can see, not every judge will see the distribution the same exact way, as the court has considerable freedom. This is why you need an attorney to tell your story when it comes to division of assets and property. The court will only divide the assets once, so you need an effective presentation of your case.