Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Division of assets in a divorce: Court or no court?

It is sometimes estimated that in the United States, there is only a 50 percent chance of a first marriage to survive while second marriages only have a 40 percent chance of succeeding. Though some may quibble about the numbers, it is clear that divorce rates are high. Many New Jersey couples may find themselves having to make decisions about who gets what as they prepare to go their separate ways.

Some couples may make the decision to turn to the courts to assist in the division of assets. Others may try to negotiate a settlement between themselves with the help of their respective attorneys. It may be prudent to take note of a number of important aspects to consider when the decision is made to settle out of court.

New Jersey is known as an equitable distribution state when it comes to property division in divorce proceedings. Both parties will want to prepare a statement of assets and liabilities. This is important to help establish which assets are considered marital, and which are separate property, such as property owned prior to the marriage or an inheritance received by one party to the marriage. 

Despite the emotional attachment to a house, keeping it requires careful thought. Should the idea of maintaining the expenses of a house on one paycheck be too daunting, a couple of options are available for consideration. Selling the property and dividing up the net proceeds is one approach. Sometimes, a couple decides to continue to jointly own the home for a fixed period of time before selling it, usually when it appears that waiting may result in a more favorable real estate market later.

Another aspect to consider is maintaining a good credit rating. Joint credit remains the legal responsibility of both partners despite what is agreed upon in the property division process. It is important to stay updated on payments made by an ex-spouse when a debt continues to be the joint legal obligation of both parties in the eyes of the creditor. Understandably, making the right decisions during the divorce process is crucial. A consultation with a New Jersey divorce lawyer can be a good first step in laying the groundwork for achieving a fair and lasting divorce settlement.

Source:, "The Out-of-Court Dividing of Assets After a Divorce", Accessed on Nov. 15, 2017

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