When a couple files for divorce in New Jersey, the assets that the couple accumulated over the course of the marriage will be subject to the equitable division of marital property. That means that the marital assets will be distributed in a manner that is fair, but not necessarily equal. In some cases, one or both spouses owned property or other valuable assets before getting married. This is considered separate property, and these assets are generally protected from divorce settlements. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and if you do not take proactive steps to protect your assets, it can have a negative impact on your financial future. If you are going through a divorce, and you have property or other assets of value that you wish to keep separate from the divorce settlement, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at your earliest convenience.
What Are Examples of Separate Property?
Separate property is any real estate, investments or other personal property that you acquired before your marriage. The following are examples of separate property that is not generally subject to the equitable distribution of property:
- Any property that is listed as separate property in a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement.
- Any real estate property that you owned before getting married.
- Art, jewelry, antiques, and other items of value.
- Assets that you obtained after filing for divorce.
- Valuable gifts you received from another source.
What Is Considered Marital Property?
The following are examples of property, investment accounts and other assets that are subject to the equitable distribution of marital property:
- Joint bank accounts
- Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and other investment accounts
- IRA’s 401(k)s, pension, and other retirement accounts
- Real estate deeds
- Mortgage and loan documents
- Wills and trusts
- Credit card statements
- Whole life insurance policies
- Income tax returns
How Can I Ensure that My Premarital Property Remains Separate?
As you enter into the divorce process, it is important to understand that separate property can become marital property if it has been commingled with marital property. In addition, if the separate property increased in value over the course of the marriage due to the contributions of your spouse, he or she may seek a financial award for the increased value of that property as part of the divorce settlement. In order to keep your premarital assets separate from the divorce and protect your financial future, consider the following steps:
- Consider getting a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement allows you to be specific about the property that you wish to remain separate in the event that your marriage does not last.
- Prepare a buy-sell agreement. If you own a business, a buy-sell agreement provides an overview of what will happen to your business in the event of a divorce, and how both parties’ interests in the business will be handled. An effective buy-sell agreement allows for the smooth transfer of ownership from one spouse to another.
- Avoid making your spouse a partner or employee. The more involved your spouse is in the day-to-day operations of the business, the more likely it is that they will want to play an important role in the business and benefit financially after the divorce.
- Avoid allowing separate property from becoming joint property by transmutation. This simply means that you changed the property from “separate” to “marital.” This leaves your premarital assets unprotected in the event of a divorce.
The Whitehouse Station Divorce Lawyers at Tune Law Group, LLC Protect Clients’ Financial Interests During the Divorce Process
If you are going through a divorce, and you have property or assets that you want protected from the divorce settlement, do not hesitate to contact the Whitehouse Station divorce lawyer at Tune Law Group, LLC. We will guide you through every step of the divorce process. To schedule an initial consultation, call us today at 908-434-1061 or contact us online. Our office is located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, where we serve clients in and around Tewksbury, Hunterdon County, Monmouth County, Morris County, and Warren County.