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Are Assets Owned Before Marriage at Risk During a Divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2020 | Divorce |

If you get a divorce, do you know how your property will be divided? What about property you acquired before marriage? Call a lawyer to learn more.

Getting a divorce can be tough, and not just because it means permanently and legally separating from someone you once deeply loved; it can also be challenging for logistical reasons. Before a court will finalize a divorce, the couple must reach an agreement related to how to divide marital property. In New Jersey, the court adheres to an ‘equitable distribution’ system of division. Here is what you need to know about equitable distribution and what happens to assets owned prior to marriage during a divorce.

Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution is the theory that marital assets in a marriage should be divided in a manner that is fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. In order to make a determination about equitable division, the court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and property brought to the marriage by each party, the standard of living established during the marriage, the economic circumstances of each party at the time of separation, and more.

Marital vs. Separate Property

As stated, only marital property is subject to equitable distribution; separate property will remain separate. Marital property refers to all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage, whereas separate property includes those assets and debts acquired prior to the marriage. As such, assets owned before marriage are not subject to equitable distribution. Be careful, however, as separate assets often become co-mingled. For example, consider a house purchased by one party two years prior to getting married. Once married, both parties have contributed to the mortgage, repairs, upkeep, and the like. As such, the asset–the home–is not truly separate property. On the other hand, student debt acquired prior to the marriage may be considered truly separate. Determining if something is commingled often takes a case-by-case assessment. It is important to know that even if you acquired an asset before marriage, it could be at risk during a divorce depending on how it has been used, maintained, etc. during your marriage.

Note that any property received during the marriage by either spouse via gift or inheritance is also considered to be separate property and is not subject to the rules of equitable division as such.

Call Our New Jersey Divorce and Property Division Lawyers Today

Getting divorced can be a stressful experience, especially if you and your spouse own a large number of assets that need to be divided. At the law office of Lomurro Munson LLC, our New Jersey divorce and property division lawyers can help. To learn more about your rights and how we can support you throughout the process and advocate for your best interests, please call our law firm directly today or send us a message telling us more about your divorce case. We are here to advocate for you.