Factors the Court Will Consider in a New Jersey Divorce Property Dispute

The Criteria Used to Divide Marital Debts and Assets

Factors the Court Will Consider in a New Jersey Divorce Property DisputeWhen a marriage breaks down, dividing the marital estate can be one of the biggest challenges you face. It’s significantly different from custody, visitation and support, all of which require that you put the best interests of the child ahead of any other considerations. With marital property, it’s mostly just about you and your ex, so there’s typically less to encourage agreement.

Like most states, New Jersey adheres to an equitable distribution approach. Under that method, if the parties cannot come to mutual agreement on the allocation of marital debts and assets, the court will step in, seeking to divide property and obligations fairly. That does not mean, though, that the marital estate will be distributed equally.

What Factors Does the Court Use to Determine What’s Fair?

Judges have a fair amount of discretion when allocating the assets and liabilities of a marriage and many consider any of the following:

  • How long the parties were married
  • The age of the parties at the time of the divorce
  • The emotional and physical well-being of the parties at the time of divorce
  • The terms of any written agreement entered into by the parties before or during the marriage (so-called prenuptial and postnuptial agreements)
  • The standard of living to which the parties were accustomed during the marriage
  • The potential earning capacity of both parties at the time of divorce, including education, job experience and other income-producing skills, as well as any prolonged absence from the job market by either party
  • The extent to which either party contributed to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation or dissipation of marital debts and assets
  • The need of one of the parties to provide a stable home to any minor children of the divorce
  • The extent to which one of the parties sacrificed career goals or opportunities to support or provide benefit to the other party
  • Any other factors the court finds to be relevant

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