Getting to an agreement about the final division of marital property in a divorce is often one of the more stressful parts of the divorce process. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that a judge will decide financial issues based on fairness. Bad actions by one spouse that negatively affect marital assets can lead to the other spouse receiving more than half of the assets, or of the offending spouse being responsible for more of the marital debts.
It’s good to get as much of a head start as possible in gathering all your financial information, which will be the basis for an equitable distribution of marital assets. Determine not only what you own, but also what you owe. For tangible assets like artwork or collectibles, you will need to provide documentation that shows present value and purchase history, including whether it was purchased with marital or separate funds.
As you negotiate the division of your marital assets, keep these things in mind:
Remember taxes. A QDRO — qualified domestic relations order — is an order signed by a judge that details how qualified retirement plan benefits are to be split between a divorcing couple. Your retirement plan administrator will enforce it, and many plans have exact language requirements that must be met in order to make the QDRO enforceable. There may be tax consequences to the distributions that you should discuss with your divorce attorney and accountant before you sign off on the agreement.
Watch for hidden assets. Although it is illegal and can result in hurting your case if discovered, many divorcing spouses make it a point to try to hide assets, usually prior to a divorce action that they know is going to occur. Experience has shown that the more time they have before a divorce is filed, the more likely they are to attempt to hide assets from the other spouse.
Be open to compromise. If there is a piece of marital property that means a lot to you personally, you may have to compromise somewhere else to get it. If a judge gets involved, emotional attachment to property takes a back seat to fairness. Talk with your attorney about what you want and what you’d be willing to trade to get it.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.