South Jersey Divorce Lawyers
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
A divorce is considered one of the most emotional and stressful events in someone’s life. The issues involved in a divorce can be complex. Any person considering or involved in a divorce should speak with a divorce lawyer to understand the potential issues in their divorce. The decision to hire a divorce lawyer is important because a divorce will often impact every aspect of your life during the divorce and the outcome of your divorce will likely impact your life after the divorce. The outcome of your divorce may determine where you live, how you will pay your bills, and/or how much time you spend with your children. A divorce can also be very expensive for both parties due to costs related to litigation, retention of experts, and attorneys fees.
Common Issues in Divorce
Most divorces involve a variety of legal issues. These legal issues often involve one or more of the following:
- Equitable Distribution;
- Alimony or Spousal Support;
- Custody, Visitation, and Parenting time;
- Child Support;
- Name Change; and
- Counsel fees.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
New Jersey Family Court judges have broad discretion and authority to equitably distribute marital property in an action for divorce. In doing so, the court will identify all marital property (or debts) subject to equitable distribution, assign a value to the marital property, and equitably distribute the property in accordance with the New Jersey equitable distribution statute. Generally speaking, marital property includes any real or personal property legally and beneficially acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage although certain assets may be excluded from equitable distribution for a number of reasons. This means marital property could be any of the following:
- The Family Home;
- Investments (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.);
- Personal Property (cars, furniture, jewelry, etc.);
- Bank Accounts (Savings, Checking, etc.);
- A Family-Owned business;
- Pension Plans and Retirement Accounts;
- Tax Refunds;
- Certain insurance policies and annuities;
- Personal Injury Awards; and
- Lottery Winnings.
Equitable distribution requires the court to identify marital assets, value the marital assets, and distribute those assets in accordance with the statutory factors set forth in the New Jersey equitable distribution statute. New Jersey divorce law requires the court to use the same method to equitably distribute marital debts. The New Jersey equitable distribution statute requires the court to consider more than economic facts in the distribution of marital property. Some of the factors a court must consider under the equitable distribution statute include:
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age and health of the parties;
- Income and assets each brought to the marriage or civil union;
- The marital standard of living during the marriage or civil union;
- The existence of any agreements between the parties concerning the distribution of marital property;
- The parties’ respective economic circumstances at the time of distribution;
- Each party’s earning capacity, education, skills, work experience, absence from the job market, deferral of opportunities, and custodial responsibilities;
- Contributions to the other’s earning capacity and as homemaker;
- The parties’ respective roles in acquiring, preserving, and dissipating assets as well as a parties contribution to the marriage as a homemaker;
- The need of a custodial parent to own or occupy the family home;
- The debts and liabilities of the parties;
- The need for creation of a trust fund to secure medical and educational costs for a party or the parties children;
- The extent a party deferred achieving career goals; and
- Any other factors the court considers relevant to the division of property.
It is important to understand the equitable distribution statute recognizes financial and non-financial contributions to the parties’ marriage or partnership. Specifically, the equitable distribution statute creates a “rebuttable presumption that each party made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to the acquisition of income and property while the party was married.” In other words, the New Jersey divorce laws assume a stay-at-home mom or dad made substantial contributions to the acquisition of marital property and income.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation!
The Drake Law Firm divorce lawyers provides affordable representation to our clients to ensure a fair resolution of issues related to equitable division, support, custody, and parenting time. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to speak with a custody attorney who will protect your rights as a parent and the rights of your children. We have office locations in Atlantic County as well as Burlington County. From these offices, we advocate on behalf of clients residing in Absecon, Brigantine, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway, Hammonton, Linwood, Longport, Margate, Mullica, Northfield, Port Republic, Somers Point, Ventnor, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Gibbsboro, Haddonfield, Medford, Marlton, Shamong, Tabernacle, Mt. Laurel, and many other surrounding areas.
Understanding New Jersey Family Law
We invite you to explore the links below to develop an understanding of the many family law issues in New Jersey. The following links are provided for informational purposes.
The Divorce Process
Child Support Law