Separate Property: Preserving Your Assets in Divorce

Separate Property: Preserving Your Assets in Divorce

Preserving Your Assets

In a New Jersey divorce, property must be divided between the spouses. This is called asset division. Many people believe any spouse walking away from marriage will leave with half the assets. In New Jersey, that isn’t necessarily the case. First, New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means assets are divided fairly, not necessarily equally. Second, not all assets are subject to division, and we will now go over why that is.

New Jersey recognizes two types of property in a divorce: marital property—also called community property—and separate property. Before you divide your property, you need to distinguish between your marital property and your separate property. Typically, only your marital assets (i.e. marital property) must be divided. Your separate property does not have to be included in the division and stays with you.

Generally speaking, marital assets are those acquired during the marriage, and separate assets are those you acquired prior to the marriage or during the marriage through individual gift, bequest, or inheritance. But the distinction becomes a little more detailed than that.

Separate property can be brought into a marriage and transmuted into marital property by commingling, which is mixing separate and marital property. When separate property is transmuted, it is subject to division. A good way to prevent this from happening is to keep separate property separate by keeping it in its own account, not adding your spouse’s name to the account or title, and not using the property for marital expenses.

Also, when separate property gains value during the marriage, that added value could be considered marital property if the other spouse helped or contributed in any way to the management of the property. A good example of this is if a spouse came into the marriage with a house and both spouses worked on remodeling the house, the equity acquired during the marriage would be considered marital property and thus subject to division.

When approaching property division, it’s important to remember that whether or not your name is on the account or title to the asset does not matter. Nor does it necessarily matter who most commonly used the asset. What matters more is when the property was acquired and who contributed to the value. If you have any questions about property division in New Jersey divorces, speak with an experienced New Jersey matrimonial and family law attorney about your rights and how you can assert them.

Do you have questions about property division? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can help you identify your marital and separate property and devise an asset division that is advantageous to you. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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