Divorce is never easy, but it can be even harder if your net worth is above average. Dividing your assets, determining spousal support, and deciding how to share responsibility for your children's expenses can all become more complicated for couples with a higher than average net worth. In these situations, it's more important than ever to have an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney on your side to help guide you through this complicated process.
Grounds for Divorce
In New Jersey, you can pursue a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce. Keep in mind that you or your spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least 12 months in order to file for any type of divorce in the state.
You can choose a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences for six months and know that there is no possibility that you can make it work. If your marriage simply isn't working out, this can be a good option for ending it.
On the other hand, if something specific has gone wrong in your marriage or civil union, you can pursue a divorce on several different grounds in New Jersey. Grounds for divorce include:
- Extreme cruelty
- Separation (the couple has lived separately for at least 18 months)
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Mental illness
- Imprisonment of one spouse
- Deviant sexual behavior
Speak to a New Jersey divorce lawyer from Lento Law Firm to determine what grounds may apply in your situation.
Dividing Your Assets
When it comes to dividing property during a divorce, New Jersey follows the principle of equitable distribution. This means that assets might not be divided 50/50 between spouses. Instead, a judge will strive to divide the assets fairly, which may not be the same as exactly equal division. Judges will consider numerous factors when making this complex decision, such as:
- How long the couple was married
- The age and health—both physical and emotional—of each spouse
- Each spouse's income and economic circumstances
- The couple's standard of living
- Each spouse's earning capacity
- Written agreements, such as pre-nuptial agreements
It's important to be forthcoming when declaring your assets. Some divorcing spouses try to hide assets or bank accounts from the court, but this is a bad idea that could hurt you in the long run. You should list all of your assets and work with the court to ensure that they are divided fairly. For couples with a high net worth, this can be a complicated task. You might have business ownership interests, significant retirement accounts, or offshore investments, for example, that can be more difficult to divide than a simple house or a car. A divorce attorney who is experienced in working through these types of divorces can be an invaluable advocate to make sure that assets are divided in a way that is truly equitable.
Spousal support—also called alimony—can be another complicated or contentious component of a divorce, especially if one spouse pursued a career while the other ran the household. After a New Jersey divorce, spousal support is usually limited to a specific time period. For example, one spouse may receive alimony until they have time to train for a career that will allow them to support themselves. However, if a marriage lasted longer than 20 years, spousal support may be required for an indefinite period of time.
Judges consider a number of different factors to determine spousal support:
- Each spouse's needs
- Each spouse's ability to pay
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of each spouse
- The couple's standard of living
- Each spouse's education level and earning capacity
- Parental responsibilities
- Any other income sources each spouse may have
- Contributions to the marriage
In some cases, the court may require a spouse to pay reimbursement alimony. This is usually only required when one spouse paid for the other's education during the marriage and never received any payment for it. In that case, reimbursement alimony may be part of the divorce agreement.
Child Custody and Financial Responsibility
Divorcing couples with a high net worth face a unique set of challenges when it comes to caring for their children. Because they don't necessarily have to worry as much about paying for basic necessities, the process has more to do with how to provide the best possible life for their children. For example, how will the couple divide their child's college tuition, ten years from now? It can be helpful to make these decisions during the divorce process, to avoid future heartache and arguments. Some couples even opt to decide how to put aside money for their children's weddings or inheritances in their divorce agreement. With the help of a skilled divorce attorney, you can ensure that you and your spouse are both contributing fairly to your children's future success and happiness.
Get the Legal Help You Need During Your Divorce
Every divorce is unique, and it's vital that you work with an attorney to make sure that your divorce agreement truly meets the needs of your situation. If you and your spouse had a pre-nuptial agreement, your divorce may need to follow the provisions you agreed to in that document. However, if your financial situation has changed in a way that your pre-nup didn't anticipate, you or your spouse may try to challenge the pre-nup. This is something that an experienced attorney from Lento Law Firm can help you navigate smoothly.
For individuals with a high net worth and more assets, there is more at risk during a divorce—and even more reason to work with skilled, experienced New Jersey divorce attorney Joseph D. Lento. Contact our office to set up a consultation with the Lento Law Firm today.