When you first got married, you thought it would last forever. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Now that you and your wife have decided to divorce, there are many things you have to consider. For example, which of you will your children live with? Will one of you keep the house or should you sell it and split the proceeds? What about all the property you have acquired during the marriage?

While some states follow the principles of community property, in which the court generally divides marital property in half, New Jersey adheres to the rules of equitable distribution. Understanding the rules of dividing marital property can be difficult. While a local attorney is your best source of guidance in property division, read further for an overview of the rules of equitable distribution.

Equitable distribution defined

In New Jersey, the divorce court will divide marital property in a way that seems fair and reasonable. This may be a 50/50 split or it may not. It all depends on what the court deems is just.

Relevant factors

If you and your wife are unable to come to a fair settlement, the court will make a decision for you with regard to property division. In coming to a decision, the court will examine many factors. For example, the judge will take into account the length of your marriage and each of your respective incomes and economic circumstances.

The court will also consider your standard of living, your physical and mental health, and even each of your contributions to the acquisition of marital property. This does not mean that if your wife functioned as a homemaker, the court will award you the majority of the property because you were the main earner. On the contrary, the judge will look at her contribution in managing the household and taking care of the children.

Separate property

Not all property will be divided between the two of you. The court exempts separate property from the rules of equitable distribution. Separate property includes gifts you received as individuals, inheritances, and generally any property that you acquired prior to the marriage.

However, if separate property is so comingled with marital property that it too hard to differentiate between the two, it could lose its status as separate.

Protect your assets

When facing divorce, it is important that you understand your options when it comes to protecting your assets. Contact a local New Jersey divorce attorney today for advice on the best way to protect your interests during divorce.