Equitable Distribution in a New Jersey Divorce

What Factors Does the Court Consider?

Equitable Distribution in a New Jersey DivorceFor purposes of allocating the assets and debts accumulated during a marriage, the state of New Jersey follows the legal principle of equitable distribution. Under equitable distribution, if the parties to a divorce cannot agree on the division of property and obligations, the court will attempt to distribute the estate fairly. It’s important to note that “fairly” does not necessarily mean equally.

Criteria Used to Allocate Marital Debts and Assets

New Jersey courts consider a wide range of factors when determining what is fair or equitable, including, but not limited to the following:

  • how long the parties have been married,
  • the standard of living to which both parties were accustomed during the marriage,
  • the age and health (physical and emotional) of both parties,
  • whether there was a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement governing distribution of property,
  • the extent to which either party brought income or assets into the marriage,
  • the respective income and earning potential of each party,
  • whether one party delayed education or career advancement for the sake of the marriage or to the benefit of the other party,
  • contributions either party made to the education or earning potential of the other,
  • non-cash contributions of either party to the marriage, including childcare and homemaking, and
  • any other relevant factors.

As a general rule, New Jersey courts don’t allocate fault when dividing marital assets, but there are exceptions:

  • when one party wasted or dissipated marital assets through wrongful conduct, such as an extramarital affair, or
  • where one party engaged in egregious behavior, such as physical violence or abuse.

The relative weight of the various factors is entirely within the discretion of the judge.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, 9 A.M.–5 P.M.