You and your spouse have made the difficult decision to get a divorce. You understand the process ahead will be grueling and emotionally exhausting, but you know you are acting in the best interests of yourselves and your family. Considering you have to split up two lives that have been intertwined for decades, you will need to reach a divorce settlement agreement to unwind all of this. For more information on how you can reach a divorce settlement agreement, please read on, then contact an experienced Hackensack, New Jersey divorce lawyer today.
What is a divorce settlement agreement in New Jersey?
A divorce settlement agreement is a legal document laying out the terms of your divorce. You may also know it by another name, such as the following:
- Marital settlement agreement
- Mediated agreement
- Separation agreement
- Property agreement
- Collaborative agreement
- Custody, support and property agreement
- Separation and property settlement agreement
Regardless of what one calls it, what one includes in it is what matters. This document settles the terms of your divorce. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement, you can avoid having a judge divide your assets and property for you. Usually, this makes settling a better option than going to trial.
Is New Jersey a community property or equitable distribution state?
Before we answer that question, we must define what constitutes marital property and what constitutes separate property. The former is any item, asset or debt, with a few exceptions, acquired during the marriage. Marital property includes income, your home, bank accounts, credit card debt and retirement accounts. Unless commingled with marital assets or maintained or increased in value by your spouse, separate property is property you acquired before your marriage and, thus, not subject to division.
With that in mind, New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that a court will look at each case to determine what is fair. More often not, “fair” is not synonymous with “equal.”
What kinds of things can you decide on in a divorce settlement agreement in New Jersey?
Aside from dividing marital property, a divorce settlement agreement will also allow you and your spouse to work out child custody, child support and alimony. Keep in mind that a judge will have to approve your divorce settlement agreement. No one likes to pay child support or alimony or give up time with their children, but your wants will not factor into the judge’s decision. If you have children, their best interests will always come first.
Can my spouse and I reach a divorce settlement agreement if we don’t agree on everything?
The court often requires mediation when the parties can’t agree on all terms of the divorce. If you and your spouse agree on most terms, going to mediation can avoid costly hearings and time in front of a judge. Best of all, you can work out a legal and enforceable agreement you both feel comfortable with.
For legal assistance, reach out to a skilled New Jersey divorce lawyer immediately.
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