What’s the Difference Between Community Property and Equitable Distribution?

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Understanding how your marital property will be distributed if you and your spouse divorce is essential to protecting yourself. After all, you may not understand the difference between an equitable distribution and community property, which could impact what you receive during your divorce. If you want to protect your property during a divorce, keep reading to learn how a Bergen County, New Jersey marital property lawyer can help you shield yourself from your spouse taking more than what is fair.

What Are Community Property and Equitable Distribution State?

When a couple gets divorced, the property and assets acquired during the marriage are up for distribution. However, how the property and funds are distributed vary from state to state, with some falling under community property laws while other adhere to equitable distribution.

A community property state operates under the guidelines that any assets, property, or debts gained during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. This means that when they divorce, everything is valued and split evenly. There are a few exceptions, but they are possible. For example, if one spouse had a bank account with funds accrued before the marriage and use those funds to buy something during the marriage, that purchase would be theirs.

Equitable distribution does not mean that your assets will be allocated to either spouse equally. Instead, the courts will examine a host of issues to award the property to each spouse based on fairness instead of equality. This only applies to martial property, which includes gifts you and your spouse presented to each other.

To distribute property under equitable distribution, the courts will consider the following factors:

  • How much each spouse earns
  • What the earning capabilities of each spouse are
  • The general health of each spouse
  • How much each spouse contribute financially to the marriage
  • Any pre- or post-nuptial agreements

While these are not the only factors the court will consider, they are some of the more significant considerations.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

Ensuring you have an attorney present to represent you in a court of law is crucial to ensure you receive a fair amount of assets based on your contribution to the marriage.

For example, if you leave your profession to be a stay-at-home parent, the court will not use that to prevent you from obtaining assets. However, a lawyer can help prove that your contributions in the home ensured that your spouse was able to succeed in their profession as a result of your dedication to the home.

When you need help navigating your divorce, ensuring you have an attorney present is vital to protecting you. At HD Family Law, we have the experience necessary to fight to help you receive the best possible outcome for your specific situation.

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