How is Property Distributed in Divorce Proceedings?

Posted June 7, 2024

  • How is Property Distributed in Divorce Proceedings?

Brian Budic was recently asked by South Jersey Magazine, “How is Property Distributed in Divorce Proceedings?”

Here is Brian’s response:

A marriage is a joint undertaking and both spouses have a right, or obligation, to share in assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. Therefore, as part of the divorce process, Courts are empowered to effectuate an equitable, or fair, distribution of all property acquired during the marriage.

The term “during the marriage” generally refers to property obtained from the date of marriage through the date of the filing of a divorce complaint in the Superior Court. There are exceptions such as some gifts and inheritance which may be excluded from distribution.

The first step for a Court is to identify the assets, and liabilities, which were acquired during the marriage, and therefore, subject to equitable distribution. Next, the Court must determine the value of the assets. Some assets do not pose much difficulty in the valuation process, such as bank accounts and investment accounts. Other assets, including pensions and businesses, are more difficult to value and may require an expert.

Once marital property is identified, and the value of the property is ascertained, the final step for the Court is to actually divide the assets and liabilities between the parties. The goal of equitable distribution is a fair and just division of assets, however, in New Jersey, fair does not necessarily mean “equal.”

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