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Getting a divorce may seem straightforward. Spouses agree to dissolve the marriage, and they divide their possessions between them. However, it is seldom that easy, particularly in an equitable distribution state like New Jersey. To understand how property division will work in a couple’s unique circumstances, it is important to know as much as possible about state laws and to have the strong advocacy of a legal professional every step of the way.

The goal is that each spouse will arrive at their post-divorce lives as evenly prepared as possible and that one spouse will not struggle while the other lives in affluence. The first step to reaching this goal is often determining which assets are jointly owned and which belong to only one spouse. Usually, any assets a couple acquires during their marriage are by law jointly owned while property one partner owned prior to marrying may remain an individual asset. However, this can be complicated, especially after years of marriage.

Equitable distribution of assets does not necessarily mean that divorcing spouses will split their joint assets down the middle. The court will consider many factors as it determines the fairest way to divide the marital property. This includes examining the income, individual assets, debts and earning capacity of each spouse. The court will also weigh the financial responsibilities of each partner and how long they were married.

Since receiving a fair and equitable portion of the marital estate can have a tremendous effect on one’s post-divorce future, it is critical that both spouses understand New Jersey laws for asset distribution. Too often, spouses try to handle these issues on their own and end up struggling for years to regain a financial foothold. Even if a couple is amicably negotiating property division and other divorce issues, having individual skilled attorneys may provide each partner with important protections.