Both the National Law Review and the New Jersey Law Journal published articles this month looking at the complexities of property settlement agreements under New Jersey divorce law.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. Equitable means “fair,” it does not mean “equal.” You may receive more or less than half or more or less than what you think is fair. This is particularly true if your spouse is hiding income, assets or debt.
Our experienced divorce lawyers in Monmouth County take a comprehensive approach, which may include reviewing bank accounts and tax returns, or even issuing subpoenas on your behalf to banks, employers or other organizations. Additionally, things like alimony, child support, tax implications, and Social Security or pension benefits can have a significant impact on the value of a settlement agreement, as well as your future financial security.
Uncovering Assets, Income, and Debts During Divorce
Common property settlement issues during New Jersey divorce include:
- Hiding Assets: From 401K retirement accounts to hidden savings accounts, to anticipated work bonuses or tax refund checks, hidden assets can go undiscovered without due diligence.
- Hidden Income: Misstating income can be done in any number of ways and is of particular concern for business owners or those who are bonus-based or otherwise highly compensated.
- Collectables: From cars to books, to stamps and musical instruments, these alternative assets can have substantial monetary value.
- Hiding debts: While many divorcing spouses focus on hidden assets and income, hidden debts can be equally damaging. Regardless of the terms of your divorce and property settlement agreement, you could be held responsible for debts accumulated during the marriage.
- Retirement: Seeking a Qualified Domestic Relations Order will ensure your share of a former spouse’s retirement or pension benefits.
- Marital Home: For many couples, the home is among their largest assets. However, proper valuation and tax implications, as well as liquidation costs such as realtor fees, must be taken into account when assessing value or accepting ownership.
Marital Property Settlement Agreements in New Jersey
While creditors will not be beholden to the terms of your divorce agreement, a comprehensive property settlement agreement can have far-reaching power under the law.
The New Jersey Supreme Court this month upheld a ruling awarding a former spouse the entire estate of her ex-husband. The precedent-setting case, Woylas v. Greenwood Tree Experts, Inc., was filed by the former spouse of a man who committed suicide two years after his divorce was finalized, despite owing 12 years of alimony and child support secured by his life insurance policy.
After his death, the insurer refused to pay, citing a suicide exclusion in the policy. However, trial court and appellate court sided with his ex-wife and, because the policy limit was not enough to satisfy the debt obligation, awarded her the man’s entire estate.
Monmouth County divorce attorneys consider negotiating a fair and equitable property settlement agreement to be among our primary responsibilities. We know the value a comprehensive agreement can have for you and your family long into the future.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.