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When things are going smoothly in a marriage or civil union, the idiom, “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours,” holds true. The unification of assets is a usual practice in marriages and civil unions. Ownership of the family home, investment assets, insurance policies, and many such assets are typically acquired for the benefit of both parties in the relationship. When a marriage or civil union breaks down, part of the divorce or separation process requires the uncoupling of jointly owned assets. In some cases, the parties are able to work out a reasonable agreement as to what constitutes shareable assets and in what shares they should be divided. Unfortunately, some couples are unable to come to such an agreement and require the intervention of a family law attorney to assist them.

Why Choose A Division Of Property Layer From Nitti & Nitti?

  • At Nitti & Nitti, our family law lawyers have over 30 years of experience helping people successfully navigate complex cases pursue favorable results.
  • As a local, family-owned firm, we are able to offer the one-on-one service and caring assistance you deserve. You and your case matter to us.
  • Our Managing Partner, Joseph Nitti, Esq., is a certified mediator, skilled divorce attorney, and is trained in collaborative law. Both of these options can streamline the family law process and help you obtain timely results.

If you are in conflict with a former spouse or partner regarding the division of property or equitable distribution of assets, we can help you. Call (973) 226-4141 to schedule an appointment with one of our family law attorneys.

Equitable Distribution of Property

When the courts have to step in to make an award concerning the equitable distribution of property, there are a number of factors that they take into consideration. These factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage or civil union;
  • The income or property that each party brought into the marriage or civil union;
  • Any written agreements such as a premarital agreement made by the parties concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
  • The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  • The debts and liabilities of the parties;
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party; and
  • The present value of the property.

Properties Eligible for Division

In New Jersey, the presumption is that each party in a marriage or civil union made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to the acquisition of income and property during the marriage or civil union. Therefore all marital assets are eligible for equitable distribution. While some assets such as the marital home fall neatly under marital assets, others like disability retirement benefits, for instance, are not so clearly discernible. An experienced family law attorney can review your situation and identify which assets are eligible for equitable distribution in the State of New Jersey.

Examples of Marital Property

Marital property includes all assets both parties acquire during the duration of the marriage. Rather than a “common property” state which divides marital assets 50/50, New Jersey is an “equitable division” state where marital property is divided in the way the court considers most fair, typically depending on the duration of the marriage, standard of living, and the age and health of each spouse as well as their economic situations. Some examples of marital property subject to division include:

  • The family home
  • Additional properties including rental properties
  • Vehicles
  • Businesses
  • Bank accounts
  • Investments/Stock options
  • Pensions

While most assets acquired during the marriage become joint marital property even if they are only in one spouse’s name, there are some exceptions. Besides property owned by each individual prior to the marriage, other assets may belong only to one party in a marriage and aren’t subject to division including:

  • Assets acquired before marriage including inheritance, gifts, and purchased property
  • Assets obtained after filing for divorce
  • Any assets included as sole property in a pre-nuptial agreement

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help You?

The division of property process requires the skills and expertise of diverse professionals including tax accountants and property valuers. An experienced family law attorney will have access to such professionals who can give supporting evidence to get you the most favorable results. They also work with forensic accountants who can uncover hidden assets that may be eligible for equitable distribution.

Common Ways Spouses Hide Assets During a Divorce

While once you shared everything and had no secrets, during a divorce many individuals give in to feelings of rancor and suspicion. In some cases, anger and resentment lead one spouse to hide assets from the other. At other times, a spouse might feel like they need to protect themselves from a former partner they suspect wants more than their fair share.

Once a divorce becomes inevitable or once the papers are already filed, some spouses try to quickly hide assets that would otherwise become divisible joint property. Some common ways contentious divorcing individuals attempt to hide assets include the following methods:

  • Cash withdrawals and hiding cash
  • Buying new valuables, often with untraceable cash
  • Under-reporting cash income
  • Claiming they have personal loans to pay off to friends and relatives to “stash” money with trusted individuals
  • Asking employers to delay promotions and bonuses until after the divorce, or delaying invoices and postponing large business deals if they own their own business
  • Setting up custodial bank accounts “for the children” and then later draining them
  • Under-valuing financial assets
  • Setting up undisclosed accounts and investments

A lawyer with years of experience with the division of property knows how to ferret out undisclosed assets and other means of hiding communal property so you have an equitable division and the best possible outcome.

How Mediation Helps Settle Division of Property Disputes

An experienced professional mediator like Joseph Nitti, Esq offers years of experience in the division of property in New Jersey and offers skilled guidance through the process of coming to terms on distribution-of-property disputes during divorce. By explaining how a judge is likely to decide on any disputes should they come to litigation, a couple is more likely to reach an equitable agreement without courtroom litigation. Mediation is also a more relaxed and neutral environment with a much more informal approach that’s more conducive to a peaceful settlement. By settling disputes during mediation a couple can save time and money they’d otherwise spend in lengthy and contentious courtroom litigation.

When child custody is an issue, a mediator can also explain the rights and obligations of both parents as well as common custody and parenting time schedules, and child support requirements.

Contact An Essex County Division Of Property Attorney Today

Don’t walk away from what you are entitled to. Let us help you get your fair share of your marital assets. If you are going through a divorce or separation and you are worried about the division of property, call us at (973) 226-4141 or click here to schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable family law attorneys.