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One crucial element in any New Jersey divorce is securing your fair share of the marital assets. Unfortunately, common myths about asset protection in New Jersey divorces can lead people to make unreasonable assumptions, only to be disappointed when reality sets in.

At Bozanian McGregor, LLC, our New Jersey asset protection attorneys believe knowledge can prepare you for what you can expect during the divorce process. This guide to common misconceptions about asset division in New Jersey divorces can help you protect your rights and claim your share of your marital assets.

Myth #1: Everything Gets Divided 50/50

New Jersey has no law saying couples must split their assets evenly in a divorce. Because New Jersey is an “equitable distribution state,” New Jersey law says couples must divide their assets fairly, but not necessarily evenly. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement (and not all prenups stand up to court scrutiny), judges consider a range of factors to determine what constitutes a fair distribution of a couple’s assets. Those factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity and financial assets
  • Each spouse’s separate assets (if they exist)
  • Each party’s contribution to marital assets or non-monetary assets (such as child-rearing)
  • Each spouse’s future responsibilities and needs
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • Whether one spouse will receive alimony

Myth #2: Courts Will Always Uphold Prenuptial Agreements

Many people see prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) as something only wealthy couples need, but they have become increasingly common among couples from many economic backgrounds. However, there are certain rules to follow when drafting a prenup. If the rules aren’t observed, the courts will invalidate the agreement. The rules for drafting a valid prenup in New Jersey are:

  • Both parties must fully disclose all their assets.
  • Both parties must obtain independent legal counsel.
  • Both parties must enter into the agreement voluntarily.
  • Both parties must have time to consider all the agreement’s terms fully before signing.

Furthermore, there are certain terms you cannot include in a prenup. These include any stipulations related to child custody and child support. Finally, the courts will invalidate a prenup if it is blatantly unfair to one of the parties involved.

Myth #3: Adultery Always Affects Asset Division in a Divorce

People often assume that if their spouse cheated on them during the marriage, they have a right to a greater share of their marital assets. That’s not necessarily true. While adultery is grounds for divorce in New Jersey, it does not mean the courts will automatically deduct assets from the spouse who cheated.

Myth #4: You Can’t Keep Your Separate Assets

In states that follow the “community property” model when dividing assets in a divorce, everything both spouses own is fair game, no matter who originally owned the asset. That’s not the rule in New Jersey. Here, the general rule is that any property that either spouse acquired during the marriage is considered shared property and must be divided equitably. However, spouses get to keep their separate property in a divorce, provided they can prove it’s separate from the couple’s shared assets. Separate property includes things like:

  • Property owned prior to the marriage
  • An inheritance one spouse received
  • Gifts intended for one spouse (though not gifts between spouses)
  • Assets either spouse obtained after filing for divorce

Distinguishing separate assets from shared assets can get tricky if those assets become mingled. For example, if one spouse receives a large inheritance and deposits that money in a shared bank account, it is likely no longer considered separate property. An attorney can review your assets to determine what does and does not qualify as separate property in your situation.

Concerned About Protecting Your Assets in a New Jersey Divorce? We Can Help

You have the right to a fair portion of the assets from your marriage. The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Bozanian McGregor, LLC, can help protect your rights and assist you in claiming the assets you need to move forward. Call us today or reach out online for a consultation.

About the Author
Elton’s passion has always been family, guardianship, and estate practice, and the complexities that accompany each unique, family-oriented matter.