Division & Protection of Assets in Divorce

                                      Ensuring the fair and equitable distribution of property.

                                      CONTACT SLG

                                      CALL US TODAY: 800-709-1131

                                      Safeguarding and Dividing Assets during your Divorce

                                      The process of splitting up debts & liabilities fairly and reasonably

                                       

                                      If you're proceeding with a marital Divorce in New Jersey, both you and your spouse will be asked to determine how you wish to divide your assets as well as how to split up and account for any debts you might owe. This is generally one of the more "disputed" or "heated" issues in any divorce even when both parties want a fair and equal split. Sometimes, however, one party may feel that the other is trying to gain an unfair, unethical, or even offensive advantage, occasionally out of spite or anger. 

                                      Regardless of the size or complexity of your assets and debts, it's critical to find a qualified divorce attorney with the knowledge and experience required to correctly represent your interests in dividing property. This is especially crucial when you own real estate, cars, and businesses, have children, or have an investment or retirement account. A skilled and competent lawyer will protect your interests during this process. Likewise, if you're a high net worth client, we can help you navigate this complex area.

                                      Equitable Distribution & Divorce Assets

                                       

                                      Equitable distribution is the fair division or dispersion of both assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. It does not always mean "equal," although it may in some cases; the courts are instead focused on the concept of fairness, and of course what is fair may differ between reasonable people.

                                      Equitable distribution can relate to things such as furniture, vehicles, pension plans, tax-deferred plans, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, mortgages, credit card debt, other loans.

                                      In considering the fair allocation of assets and liabilities, we look at the values and debts of all of your assets, including:

                                      1. Your cars and trucks, boats, planes, RV's, ATV's, and other utility vehicles, etc.
                                      2. The value of your marital home, if you own one, as well as any money you might owe on it
                                      3. A list of your personal possessions and their correlated values
                                      4. Any collectibles you might own
                                      5. Any ownership interests you or your spouse might have in any business ventures, or any additional income either spouse may generate from other sources
                                      6. Whether you own any investment, rental, or vacation property (e.g. Beachfront/Lakefront homes, mountain retreats, etc.)
                                      7. Retirement accounts, including but not limited to your IRA's, Pension plans, 401(K)'s, 403(B)'s, etc. 
                                      8. Any digital assets or cryptocurrencies either of you might own
                                      9. Any intellectual property either spouse owns and its estimated value
                                      10. Loans, mortgages, credit card balances, or other borrowed money, including business loans and home refinancing loans like HELOC's (Home Equity Lines of Credit)
                                      11. Any inheritances you or your spouse have received
                                      12. The values of your joint and several bank accounts
                                      13. Any profit sharing or deferred compensation plans
                                      14. Annuities or Supplemental Retirement plans 

                                      New Jersey law allows "Equitable Distribution" to be attained through any of the following mechanisms:

                                      • Mediation (a non-binding negotiation between the parties)
                                      • Arbitration (a binding negotiation between the parties)
                                      • Negotiations between both parties directly
                                      • Negotiations between the attorneys representing you and your spouse
                                      • Judicial determinations in Court

                                      Courts will generally consider several factors between the parties, including:

                                      • Your age and your spouse's age
                                      • The length of your marriage
                                      • You and your spouse's health
                                      • Your incomes and your ability to produce more income
                                      • Your contributions to your spouse's education and their contribution to yours
                                      • Custodial responsibilities and duties for your kids, if you have any
                                      • Whether you've held a job continuously or if you've been out of work or away from the workforce for some period of time
                                      • Employment and labor skills or training, as well as career experience
                                      • Whether added expenses are necessary to facilitate whether you or your spouse can work and support oneself
                                      • Your standard of living during the length of your marriage
                                      • Which property you brought to the marriage and which property your spouse brought to the marriage
                                      • Any written agreements between you and your spouse concerning the division of property, and whether you wrote those agreements before or during the marriage
                                      • And finally, you and your spouse's general economic circumstances

                                      Working with an experienced divorce attorney, such as the legal team at Simon Law Group, can help you navigate these difficult issues around Asset splits and equitable distribution of debts and liabilities in New Jersey. This is true both for ordinary clients whose future financial security depends on fairly dividing these assets, as well as wealthy clients whose business and property interests, as well as familial and intergenerational wealth demand maximum legal protection.

                                      Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution

                                       

                                      The main difference between community property and equitable distribution is that in a community property jurisdiction, there is an absolute 50-50 split of all property acquired during the marriage. In an equitable distribution jurisdiction, the goal is fairness or equitability. As such, in NJ, more assets may be considered “marital property,” but the split is not necessarily 50-50. A spouse that does not contribute to the family growth may indeed, and rightfully, receive a much lesser percentage of the family/marital assets.

                                      In New Jersey, the courts have developed a 3-step process to determine the distribution of assets:

                                      1. Identifying the assets that are subject to distribution;
                                      2. Calculating the value of those assets; and
                                      3. Determining the most equitable way to distribute those assets

                                      First, the court identifies the assets to be considered marital property and subject to distribution. Generally speaking, the NJ courts have defined marital property to be any property acquired by either or both spouses from the date of marriage to the filing of the divorce. 

                                      Non-marital property (meaning property acquired before the marriage) is not subject to division in most cases. These categories of "separate property" can include property acquired prior to marriage, property acquired during the marriage as gifts from third parties or by inheritance, or property acquired after the filing of the divorce complaint from post-complaint efforts. It is, however, important to note that the NJ Courts have held that separate property must be kept separately and may not be co-mingled; if it is intertwined with other marital property, it then becomes marital property.

                                      Similarly, if non-marital/separate property is improved during the marriage, it could be considered marital property depending on how it improved or grew, such as if it was financed from a joint bank account. The courts may also consider if any increase in the value to the separate/nonmarital property was a result of a market fluctuation or a result of the contributions and efforts by a party.

                                      Next, a judge will value the marital property for purposes of distribution. This step may be as straightforward as looking at bank statements or it can be a more complicated process involving retaining an appraiser or forensic accountant to value a business or to analyze business benefits, such as deferred compensation, restricted stock or stock options.

                                      Finally, the court is granted wide discretion to determine the most equitable way to distribute the assets. In accordance with New Jersey's Equitable Distribution Statute, courts will consider the following factors:

                                      •  The duration of the marriage
                                      • The age, physical and emotional health of the parties
                                      • The income or property brought to the marriage by each party
                                      • The standard of living during the marriage
                                      • Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property division
                                      • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective
                                      • The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage
                                      • The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other
                                      • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker
                                      • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party
                                      • The present value of the property
                                      • The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects
                                      • The debts and liabilities of the parties
                                      • The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children
                                      • The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
                                      • Any other factor which the court may deem relevant

                                      Equitable distribution is a far cry from an easy division of the assets. Much effort and work must be done so that you, as a party to a divorce action, can ensure a fair outcome. When engaged in a divorce with significant marital assets and/or significant marital debt, it's imperative that you put your best facts forward to ensure fairness.

                                      The attorneys at Simon Law Group have the have the knowledge and experience to help you successfully navigate this process. Any time you have questions or need help, feel free to call us! We take pleasure in helping people find optimal solutions in divorce matters.

                                      Concealed & Hidden Property

                                       

                                      Whether your spouse is hiding money or property is a concern many people face in the divorce process, and it's completely normal to wonder. If you're suspicious that your spouse is attempting to conceal assets from you in the leadup to divorce proceedings, it's imperative you inform your attorney. In a situation like this, an experienced divorce firm is often able to track down hidden assets. While it may be a simple mistake, New Jersey laws demand that all assets be disclosed and discoverable by both parties and their attorneys. If you suspect your spouse to be hiding money or property, contact us.

                                       

                                      Estate Planning Considerations

                                       

                                      Following a Divorce, your Estate Plan should be updated to reflect the changes in your life. Failing to create a new Last Will & Testament may result in distributions of your estate in whole or in part to your former spouse, which could be against your wishes and interests and may cause strife and discord among your loved ones. We recommend contacting us to draft and finalize a new Estate Plan that reflects your current situation, which is especially important if you have significant property interests.

                                      LEARN MORE

                                      Remaining at Home vs. Leaving

                                       

                                      Deciding whether to stay in your marital home, which you and your spouse may have resided at together for years, can be an emotionally upsetting idea, particularly when you live with children. Further, leaving your home can impact the outcome of your divorce, as the judge will factor in how your absence affects the custody of your children, alimony payments, child support considerations, and more. Before choosing to leave your marital property behind, consult with a qualified New Jersey divorce and family law attorney who can help you navigate the next best steps for your situation.

                                      High Net Worth Divorces

                                       

                                      High Net Worth Divorces must be handled with added Care

                                      When a high net worth couple decides to dissolve their marriage through a divorce, they should be more cautious than a typical couple undergoing a divorce. Given that your financial stake in a fair and equitable divorce is much greater, there are a number of things that must be done to avoid needless complex litigation and of course, to ensure the protection of your assets. Issues in an ordinary divorce, such as Child Custody as well as Child Support, are still present and may present greater difficulties if one of the spouses lives overseas or frequently travels.


                                      Prenuptial Agreements

                                      If you signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married, you may have concerns about how your prenup would impact asset distribution in the event of a divorce. Our divorce lawyers will examine your prenuptial agreement in depth and discuss with you the effect it will have on the settlement of your divorce case after listening to your circumstances and goals. Rather than hiring a general practice divorce lawyer, you should consider hiring a divorce and family law attorney who has expertise in the intricacies of high-stakes divorces.


                                      Real Estate

                                      Real estate is often one of the most valuable assets in a marriage, and this is especially true for wealthy couples who own several homes or properties. Whether your real estate holdings include a marital home, vacation homes, commercial properties, or investment properties, you must decide what part of the property is subject to equitable distribution and what amount, if any, is excluded from asset division. The date of the marriage, the date of purchase, the down payment amount, and the source of the funds are all relevant variables in the allocation of these assets. 

                                      After you've considering your real estate assets, you'll need to determine whether you want to keep or sell your homes or properties. Our divorce attorneys will work with you to create innovative strategies to keep your interest in the assets after you've agreed on what to do with them. Before the settlement can be finalized, the property may need to be valued using comparative market studies and appraisals. If a value or determination on the property's disposal cannot be made, the courts may need to decide.


                                      Valuations of Businesses, Practices, and Partnerships

                                      A divorce in New Jersey which implicates the ownership of company assets will usually take longer to settle than a divorce involving no business assets, unless your divorce is uncontested. If one spouse owns a company, for example, the you'll need a formal appraisal and report. In this scenario, forensic accountants and actuarial specialists are typically retained to assess the business's fair market worth.

                                      A comprehensive examination of the company site, records, books, general ledgers, payroll registers, receivables, machinery, inventory, real estate, client lists, partnership interests, enterprise, and goodwill is usually included in the valuation process. Also, if you owned the company before getting married, we'll need to determine whether it's a "marital asset." If that's the case, we'll need to figure out how much your spouse owns in the company.

                                      We can help you create the appropriate agreement with your spouse, depending on whether you want to sell your company or keep it running after the divorce. This may be done via a buy-out, sale, annuitized settlement, or another form of distribution. 


                                      Stocks and Stock Options Contracts

                                      If you receive stock options as part of your compensation, you might already realize the difficulties that come with dividing these assets in a divorce. To establish whether assets are eligible to equitable distribution, we'll examine your stock options to determine the award date and vesting schedule. A constructive trust may be included in your settlement agreement to handle the tax implications of your stock option payout. It may also preserve your pre-distribution interests and rights while preserving any post-judgment alternatives.


                                      Assets for Retirement

                                      If you accumulated retirement assets before or during your marriage, such as a 401k, 403B, or IRA, these funds may be subject to equitable distribution in your divorce. In most cases, the value of your retirement account acquired between the date of the marriage and the filing of the divorce lawsuit is subject to equitable distribution. Pensions, deferred compensation plans, SEPs, and SERPs all fall under this category.

                                      We work with highly trained professionals to draft domestic relations orders, even if these assets may not be physically divided at the time of the divorce decision. These domestic relations orders can assist guarantee that you get the correct share and quantity of benefits owed to you on a future date. We understand the additional complexity of your position, which is why we take the time to thoroughly comprehend the implications of your position to craft a successful strategy for splitting your retirement assets or balancing those assets with other marital assets. Whether the retirement benefit is a pension, IRA, Keogh plan, 401K, 403B, or part of an employee stock option plan, we can help explain the tax implications, buy-out options, and the full Qualified Domestic Relations Order process in detail. That said, if you've combined pre-marriage interests with marital contributions, dividing your retirement assets and employee benefit programs can be expected to be more difficult.

                                      If you're going through a high-net-worth divorce, you'll need a lawyer who focuses on family and marital law. Due to the complexity of these issues, you should choose a firm that dedicates a large portion of its practice to handling divorce cases and Family Law issues, as opposed to relying on a traditional general practice lawyer.

                                      We value your privacy and we understand your desire to keep your personal situations away from prying eyes, which is why we ensure that every communication with us is completely confidential.

                                      Our divorce attorneys recognize that settling a complicated divorce case properly requires strategy, top-tier negotiation skills, business experience, and investment experience, as well as implicit recognition of the importance of your personal brand as a businessperson, entrepreneur, celebrity, or athlete. 

                                       

                                      Cryptocurrencies & Digital Assets

                                      Typically, discovery starts with the filing of the New Jersey Family Part Case Information Statement (CIS), which requires both spouses to provide detailed financial information, including a list of all assets in Part E.

                                      IRS Notice 2014-2 clarifies that virtual money is to be regarded as property for federal income tax purposes. Cryptocurrency assets may be categorized as company property, investment property, or personal property, depending on the taxpayer's circumstances.

                                      Nonetheless, locating concealed cryptocurrency holdings is sometimes quite difficult given their "private" nature (even when a wallet address is public, such as with Bitcoin or Ethereum). Other assets, such as Monero, contain private addresses and may be even more difficult to locate.

                                      However, deposits and withdrawals to a Centralized Exchange (CEX) like Binance US, Coinbase/Coinbase Pro, Kraken, Gemini, Uphold, Voyager, or CashApp, may show on bank or credit card statements in certain circumstances. Those assets may then be stored on foreign CEX's like KuCoin, Bitrue, and BitMart. Additionally, the app store history of a spouse may indicate that he or she downloaded a crypto wallet or trading platform. Similarly, if your spouse has downloaded a non-custodial wallet (like MetaMask or XUMM), these may appear in his or her web browser history. 

                                      Under New Jersey's equitable division of assets rules, a court may award extra assets to one spouse if it is proven that the other spouse hid assets or was otherwise financially dishonest. A final divorce decision may even be vacated under perjury laws through Rule 4:50 if concealed assets are found later, regardless of the amount of time that has elapsed. In fact, according to New Jersey Court Rule 4:50-3; Von Pein v. Von Pein, reopening equitable distribution decisions to remedy such fraud is not time-limited and may thus be subject to re-allocation years later.

                                      100% FREE CONSULTATION

                                      The legal team at Simon Law Group has extensive experience working with a wide variety of clients, from extremely high net-worth couples with vast and complex estates to ordinary couples with typical assets and debts. If you're considering a divorce from your spouse or a complaint has already been filed, give us a call and we'll guide you through the process. 

                                      New Jersey Family Courts we appear in regularly:

                                      Bergen County 
                                      Justice Center, Room 119
                                      10 Main Street
                                      Hackensack, NJ 07601
                                      (201) 527-2300

                                       

                                      Essex County 
                                      Family Division Dissolution Unit
                                      Wilentz Justice Complex, Room 113
                                      212 Washington Street
                                      Newark, NJ 07102
                                      (973) 693-6710

                                       

                                      Family Division Non-Dissolution Unit
                                      Wilentz Justice Complex, Room 1365
                                      212 Washington Street
                                      Newark, NJ 07012
                                      (973) 693-5560 or (973) 693-5520

                                       

                                      Hudson County
                                      Family Intake Team
                                      Administration Bldg., Room 203
                                      595 Newark Avenue
                                      Jersey City, NJ 07306
                                      (201) 795-6777

                                       

                                      Hunterdon County 
                                      Family Case Management Office
                                      Hunterdon County Justice Center
                                      65 Park Avenue
                                      Flemington, NJ 08822
                                      (908) 237-5920

                                       

                                      Mercer County
                                      Family Case Management Office
                                      175 S. Broad St., 2nd Floor
                                      P.O. Box 8068
                                      Trenton, NJ 08650-0068
                                      (609) 571-4200

                                       

                                      Middlesex County
                                      Family Part Intake Reception Team
                                      Family Courthouse
                                      120 New St., Room 111
                                      P.O. Box 2691
                                      New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2691
                                      (732) 519-3242

                                      Monmouth County
                                      Family Part, Courthouse
                                      71 Monument Park
                                      P.O. Box 1252
                                      Freehold, NJ 07728-1252
                                      (732) 677-4050

                                       

                                      Morris County
                                      Morris County Family Division
                                      Morris County Courthouse Family Intake
                                      Washington and Court Streets
                                      P.O. Box 910
                                      Morristown, NJ 07963
                                      (973) 656-4000

                                       

                                      Somerset County
                                      Family Case Management Office
                                      Courthouse, 2nd Floor
                                      P.O. Box 3000
                                      Somerville, NJ 08876-1262
                                      (908) 231-7600

                                       

                                      Sussex County
                                      Sussex County Family Division
                                      Sussex County Judicial Center
                                      43-47 High Street
                                      Newton, NJ 07860
                                      (973) 579-0630

                                       

                                      Union County
                                      Dissolution Assignment Office
                                      New Annex Bldg.; Courthouse
                                      2 Broad Street
                                      Elizabeth, NJ 07207
                                      (908) 659-3314

                                       

                                      Warren County
                                      Family Division Dissolution Unit
                                      Courthouse
                                      413 Second St.;
                                      P.O. Box 900
                                      Belvidere, NJ 07823-1500
                                      (908) 475-6150