Relative to other states, New Jersey actually has a fairly broad definition of what constitutes marital property, that is, property which will get divided fairly in the event of an absolute divorce, a divorce from bed and board or in a similar proceeding.
Basically, any property that a couple acquires during their marriage will be subject to an equitable division of assets. While some may think otherwise, it actually matters very little which spouse acquired or earned the property, in whose name the property is legally titled, and the like.
There are a couple of limited exceptions to this rule. For one, gifts to one spouse or to the other spouse from a third party will not be considered marital property. However, the person claiming that property is a gift will have to show clear documentation to that effect. Likewise, property acquired through an inheritance will not be included as marital property.
Moreover, as the wording of the law implies, a person who received property before their marriage may be able to claim that it belongs to him outright and should not get divided. Again, though, the challenge lies in proving this to the satisfaction of a New Jersey court. Doing so can be difficult, particularly following a marriage that has lasted for years or even decades.
Sometimes, it is well worth it to argue over whether an asset is or is not marital property. By way of example, in the case of a $100,000 investment a person acquired prior to marriage, the difference could be between a person keeping her investment or having to turn over, say, $50,000 of it. A New Jersey resident who thinks they may have an asset that is her separate property should evaluate her options with an experienced family law attorney.