When you are divorced, a court will divide up your marital property in a way that is fair and equitable to both parties. This statement necessarily implies that only marital property gets divided—non-marital property does not. That means that the determination of what property is and is not considered marital is vital in a divorce.

Marital and Non Marital Property

Any property that is acquired while two people are married in New Jersey is considered to be marital, even if the property is titled in only one person’s name. That can include cars and real estate, but also can include businesses or bank accounts.

Of course, many people will go into a marriage already owning property of their own. They may think that because they owned something before they were married, that it will be forever considered non marital and thus, not subject to division. This is not true.


Nonmarital property can be transformed into marital property when it is used as such, or when marital property is commingled with it. This happens quite often, as married people tend not to keep a “this is mine, that is yours” mentality (which is probably a good idea for a healthy relationship, but still something that people interested in divorce law should keep in mind).

For example, assume that a wife owns a car outright going into a marriage. During the marriage, the car’s repairs and maintenance are paid for by a jointly-owned bank account (marital property). The car may now be considered marital property.

This often happens in businesses, when a spouse owns a business in his or her own name. After marriage, the other spouse may come to work for the business, allow marital funds to be used to support the business, or take money from the business to pay for marital bills. This commingling can subject all or part of the business to distribution should the spouses ever divorce.

Appreciation in Value

Sometimes, property can be both marital and nonmarital. In the example of the business, even if the business itself is considered to be non-marital, any increase in the value of the business while the parties were married will be considered marital, given the other spouse’s time, effort, and investment in the business.

Any increase in value of otherwise non marital property is subject to division in divorce, so long as the other spouse had some hand, active or passive, in assisting the business. Many courts have found that a spouse who stays home to help raise a child has an interest in the increased value of property, if doing so allowed the other spouse to work at the business.

This is not limited to businesses, but can apply to increases in retirement accounts, real estate, or personal property.

Be prepared for what property will and will not be divided in your divorce. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case.

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