General Guide to Inherited Property, Divorce, & Equitable Asset Distribution in NJ

What You Need to Know About Inheritance and Divorce in New Jersey

General Guide to Inherited Property, Divorce, & Equitable Asset Distribution in NJ

If you or someone you know is considering a civil union dissolution, ending their domestic partnership, or filing for divorce, then you’re probably also concerned about property or assets accrued over the course of the marriage and possibly about any inheritance or valuables gifted to you or them from a family member. Maybe you are a parent or grandparent who is worried about whether or not your legacy will be passed down to your loved ones the way you intended.

You’re not alone, and you don’t have to go it alone. Having an experienced NJ divorce attorney to guide you through the process can help ensure there are no hidden marital assets, you receive your fair and equitable portion, and you’re able to protect personal inheritance and inherited valuables you have, especially if you did not prepare an enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial/mid-marriage agreement.

Who Gets Inheritance in Divorce in New Jersey?

First and foremost, it is important to note that New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. As such, there are generally 3 steps to the division of assets, which are to:

  • distinguish marital property or assets accrued over the course of the marriage from personal property or property you acquired before marriage or gifted to you as an individual;
  • determine the actual value of personal possessions or marital assets; so that the
  • assets themselves can be divided and distributed towards alimony and spousal support, child support, or any financial obligations mandated in the divorce decree.

Doing this properly can be complicated and requires preparing a Case Information Statement (CIS) or a financial overview of your economic partnership and marital lifestyle and how that may or may not be supported post-divorce.

Basic Rule of Thumb For Inheritances & Property Distribution in New Jersey

At first look, personal or separate property (i.e., gifts, inheritances, or intestate successions or property passed to an heir when there isn’t a last will and testament) is retained by the party to whom it was given and is not considered part of the marital estate.

This is also true of an inheritance received by one party after the divorce decree has been issued.

When Can an Inheritance or Financial Gift Be Considered Marital Property in NJ?

If over the course of the marriage, a financial gift or inheritance designated for one spouse is deposited in a joint bank account, commingled with other marital funds, and possibly used to finance aspects of the marital lifestyle, your soon-to-be-ex may try to establish a claim.

This is often true if inherited funds or monetary gifts are used towards the purchase of a car, home, or other items for the family, especially if both spouses are later on the deed or title, then it’s far more likely that newly acquired asset will be considered marital property.

In addition, if one spouse receives a property inheritance and the other spouse increases the property’s value through repairs or renovations. That piece of real estate might be considered a marital asset.

In general, it’s considered advisable to have a separate bank account for personal gifts of a financial nature and make sure this property remains separate to prevent allegations of this kind.

Can Inherited Assets Be Used for Child Support or Alimony in New Jersey?

Inheritance and Marital Asset Division Lawyer in Elizabeth NJYes. Although an inherited asset can be claimed as personal property and therefore not subject to equitable distribution, income generated as a result of inheritance can be used to modify (increase or decrease) an alimony support or child support order.

This is clearly illustrated in Weitzman v. Weitzman, where an ex-husband’s post-divorce inheritance was shared with his children and former wife, thus sizably increasing his child support and alimony payments. And in cases where a change of income circumstances allows a spouse to file a motion to reduce or terminate alimony or child support. Such as in Aronson v. Aronson and Stamberg v. Stamberg, where an ex-wife’s inheritance constituted a “change of circumstances” to justify a request to modify an existing support order.

If you or someone you know has questions about their rights to additional support due to a post-divorce inheritance or income generated from an inheritance, you should contact an experienced New Jersey support modification attorney today, who can guide you through the next steps in applying for or appealing your financial obligations.

Contact a Union County, NJ Inheritance and Marital Asset Division Lawyer Today

Having a skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorney to ensure you receive the property to which you may be entitled, and advocate on your behalf, is essential during emotionally charged proceedings situations like these.

The Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper, Esq. has been helping clients with a broad range of divorce-related issues, including what happens to inheritance and inherited property, in cities near you and throughout Union, Essex, and northern Middlesex counties, such as Edison, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Elizabeth, Cranford, Westfield, Scotch Plains, and Summit to secure their financial future and that of any children they may have.

With over a quarter of a century of providing dedicated legal guidance and unparalleled client service, contact us online or at (908) 481-4625 to discuss your case today or schedule a consultation.