If you are getting divorced and the two of you can’t come to an agreement over who will get what property, that decision will be up to a judge. In most cases, the couple will agree on how their marital assets and debts will be divided, or they will attend mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law sessions, to avoid a court fight on the issue.
New Jersey law bases the division of property, including ownership of a timeshare or vacation home, on equitable distribution. The purpose is to give each party a fair share of the property obtained, or to argue for a share of the increase in the value of property owned by one spouse, during the course of the marriage, whether or not the property title is in one or both names.
Under N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23.1, trial courts consider the following when making a decision on the equitable distribution of the couple’s property:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of the parties
- The income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- The language of any valid, written agreement by the parties before or during the marriage concerning property distribution
- Each party’s economic circumstances when the division of property becomes effective,
- The income and earning capacity of each party, including: education, training, employment skills, work experience, amount of time out of the job market and custodial responsibilities for children
- The time and expense necessary to acquire enough education or training to allow a party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage
- Each party’s contribution to the education, training or earning power of the other
- Each party’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property
- The impact of taxes on the proposed distribution to each party
- The property’s current value
- The need of a parent with physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence
- The parties’ debts and liabilities
- The need to start, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children
- The extent a party delayed achieving their career goals to try to aid the other spouse in succeeding professionally
- Any other factors a judge may see as relevant
Generally, property owned by a spouse before the marriage remains that spouse’s property after a divorce. Some of that property may qualify as an asset eligible for equitable distribution, including the increase in value of the property during the marriage, if that increased value is due to the other spouse’s efforts (as contrasted with a value increase due solely to market forces).
Vacation homes or timeshares, like any property bought in the course of the marriage, are subject to equitable distribution. If one party has a vacation home or a timeshare prior to the marriage it’s not likely the other party may properly claim a share to it.
When the couple negotiates an agreement on who will get what property, there may be options as follows:
- A couple can decide to sell a timeshare or vacation home purchased during a marriage and divide the proceeds
- One party may purchase the ownership interest of the other so one of them will own it after the divorce
- The two could decide to maintain ownership and work out a schedule when each will use it and divide the costs and income (if the vacation property is rented when they’re not using it)
- The parties could use all their property rights to trade one thing for another (auto equity value in exchange for a time share, for example) to reach an agreement
If you are considering a divorce and have questions about what your property ownership rights, an experienced matrimonial attorney may positively affect negotiations and court outcomes during the divorce process. To get started, call the Central Jersey law offices of Hanan M. Isaacs, P.C., at 609-683-7400, or contact us online, for a near-term reduced fee initial consultation. We will listen to your facts, review the applicable laws, and advise you regarding your best options to protect your legal rights and interests. Call now. You will be glad you did.