Like many other states, New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that although many assets and debts are equally divided between spouses at the time of a divorce, some are not. For example, certain retirement plans and a closely held business owned by one spouse may or may not be equally divided between the spouses. Even real property may not be equally divided. Likewise, debt may not be equally divided, depending on the type of the debt and the reasons the debt was incurred.
There are three steps to dividing assets and debts as part of a divorce. First, the asset or debt must be identified. Second, it must be valued. Third, the method of division must be determined. While the first step is usually uneventful (unless assets or debts have been hidden), the second step often requires a valuation expert such as a forensic accountant or an expert in a particular asset category such as artwork or jewelry. The third step involves determination as to how the asset or debt will be divided such as a lump sum payment or a payment over time and, in each case, the details of each arrangement.
Among other issues, our lawyers have extensive knowledge in the valuation and distribution of:
- Assets that are exempt or partially exempt from equitable distribution
- Closely held businesses or a professional practices;
- Defined Benefit pensions and other retirement accounts;
- Employee Income Deferral benefits such as stock options and restricted stock;
- Valuables and other personal property