You and your partner are going your separate ways, which means your assets will likely have to follow suit. But it’s usually not as easy as telling the courts what belongs to who, as the law can have a big say in how you divide things.

One of the most important steps in processing your divorce is the division of assets. New Jersey uses the equitable distribution method, which looks to compensate both parties fairly in the split. But fair can be a tough concept to grasp, especially when it comes to the law.

Going separate ways

Your property will have to go through several steps before it lands in one of your laps:

·         Marital property: Most assets you gained before your marriage will see a separate designation than those that you acquired after your wedding. Even if a deed or debt only has one name on it, it could still count toward the shared property.

·         Proper valuation: Once you know what counts, you’ll typically have to evaluate the assets to find the fair market value. This will come in handy when something like a house or a business can’t be split right down the middle, and other property will need to be used to balance the scales. It can also come into play when dividing retirement benefits between the two of you.

·         Equitable distribution: Once you know what you have and how much it’s worth, it’s usually time to start splitting shares. Equitable distribution can include considerations like your standard of living, how long you were married and the time it will take you or your spouse to reenter the workforce.

Make sure you get your fair share out of the divorce. Understanding how the state looks at your belongings can go a long way toward getting what’s rightfully yours.