If there is Real Estate In My Name Alone, Does My Spouse Have A Claim To It During Our New Jersey Divorce?
That depends on whether the property was purchased before your marriage or during it. Even then, certain factors can make a singly-held piece of real estate subject to New Jersey’s equitable division laws.
If you are unsure about whether a particular piece of property is considered to be singly-held or marital property, discuss it with your divorce attorney. He or she can examine the circumstances surrounding your property and determine whether it is subject to division by the court or not.
What is Singly-held Property?
Singly-held property is the property that belongs to you, and only you. This includes all property you owned before entering your marriage and any property that you receive as a gift or through inheritance during your marriage. Basically, it is your possessions that were not purchased with marital funds.
Sometimes, a piece of property that an individual owned before entering a marriage may be subject to property division if the court finds that his or her spouse’s efforts contributed to the property’s value. For example, if you owned a home prior to entering your marriage and during your marriage, you and your spouse renovated the home, the property could then be subject to equitable distribution despite your owning it prior to entering the marriage.
The best way to ensure that a piece of property remains solely in your possession in a divorce is to have a prenuptial agreement drafted that states you are the sole owner of that property.
But What if I Purchased Property Solely in my Name After my Marriage?
Then, despite a piece of property being in your name only, the property could be subject to division by the court. This is because after you are married, your income belongs to both you and your spouse.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable distribution is the principle that New Jersey divorce courts follow to divide divorcing couples’ property. Unlike states where a couple’s property is divided 50/50, known as community property states, New Jersey’s equitable distribution laws allow for the court to divide property among divorcing spouses according to their financial and personal needs after a divorce. This division is not necessarily 50/50, but it done in an attempt to address both partners’ needs. For example, the spouse who is granted primary custody of the couple’s children might be given the martial home because the court feels it is best for the children to remain in this home. To make this fair for the other parent, the court might give him or her a larger share of the couple’s savings or other assets.
Work with a New Jersey Divorce Attorney
If you are considering ending your marriage in New Jersey, it is important that you understand how our state’s equitable distribution laws will affect your property division. Contact our team of experienced New Jersey divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. today to get started on your case with our firm. We proudly serve couples and families throughout Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington, and Middlesex counties.