Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Dividing the spoils after a divorce

New Jersey is one of the most expensive U.S. states to live in. It comes as no surprise then when couples fight over the assets they have acquired together during a marriage. According to CNBC, millennials are not only marrying later, but showing a greater propensity toward maintaining separate assets. About 28% of married millennials do not have a joint bank account. This more than doubles how many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers keep their bank accounts separate after marriage.

One proposed reason for this is that millennials have witnessed difficulties with separating assets during a divorce. Even so, professionals warn that owning property separately may not protect some assets from being counted as jointly owned during a divorce. This may happen when couples live in a community property state, which does not include New Jersey. Even so, one spouse may move to one of these states, such as California or Nevada, and then file for divorce there. Those courts may then hold jurisdiction over the divorce and therefore the marriage assets.

Even in states that follow equitable distribution principles, the spouse who earned the most does not always get to keep the most. What if the other spouse gave up their career ambitions to support the sole breadwinner? They may also be compensated for that sacrifice with financial assets and/or spousal support. Thus, the best way for any couple to protect their assets is a legitimate prenuptial or even a postnuptial agreement.

Even with a prenup, some couples may wonder what to do about the home. They may have acquired the new home after a prenuptial agreement or may not have considered purchasing a home at the time it was drafted. Forbes recommends selling the home and dividing the proceeds. One spouse could also buy out the other. However, if there are young children involved, parents might consider maintaining joint-ownership until the children are old enough to leave the nest.

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