What Is the Difference Between Community Property and Equitable Distribution?

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If you and your spouse are currently undergoing divorce proceedings, you are likely going to have to face the division of your assets. This is a highly-contested divorce-related issue, but ultimately, the New Jersey family court may turn to state law to reach a decision. Follow along to find out what the difference is between a community property state and an equitable distribution state and how one of the proficient Hudson County property distribution attorneys at Greenberg & Walden, LLC can work to protect your rightful property.

What is the difference between separate property and marital property?

Separate property is considered the property that you and your spouse acquired before your marriage. Or, it can be the property that was acquired after your separation date. Examples of separate property include the following:

  • Gifts that were given to an individual spouse.
  • Inheritances that were granted to an individual spouse.
  • Compensation that was awarded to an individual spouse after a personal injury claim.

However, there are some instances where the separate property can be converted to marital property. On that note, marital property is considered the property that was acquired by both you and your spouse throughout the duration of your marriage. Examples of marital property include the following:

  • Wages earned by both you and your spouse.
  • Personal property that was acquired by both your and your spouse’s wages.
  • Bank accounts that were acquired during the marriage.
  • Retirement accounts and pensions that were acquired during the marriage.
  • Gifts that were given from one spouse to another during the marriage.

What is the difference between community property states and equitable distribution states?

With all that being said, your separate property and marital property will be divided differently depending on whether you and your spouse live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state.

For one, a community property state follows the rule that separate property should be distributed to the rightful owners and that marital property should be distributed equally. Notably, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are the nine states that follow this rule.

Contrastingly, an equitable distribution state follows the rule that separate property should be distributed to the rightful owners but that marital property should be distributed in a way that is fair and just. More specifically, “fair and just” does not equate to an even 50/50 split. Notably, New Jersey is one of the 40 states that follow equitable distribution law.

And so, the New Jersey family court will follow equitable distribution law when determining your property distribution settlement agreement. This is so long as you and your spouse do not have a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or otherwise a negotiated agreement that was done outside of court. If you require assistance with protecting your property from division, you must retain legal representation from a talented Hudson County family law attorney today.

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