• What Happens to Gifts During Divorce?
  • January 31, 2018
  • Every year, the number of divorce filings spike in January and February as couples who had been waiting to get through the holidays begin to start the divorce process. The Haddonfield divorce lawyers at Kearney & Martone, P.C. are here to help navigate the legal complexities of divorce proceedings. Specifically, couples must understand exactly how the law pertains to gifts received prior to and during the course of their marriage. Generally, in a New Jersey divorce, marital assets are divided among the parties under the theory of equitable distribution.

    Separate Property or Gifts to One Spouse
    In most cases, gifts received during the marriage that are clearly intended for only one spouse will remain that spouse’s property after the divorce. This may include property that was owned by the spouse prior to the marriage as well as tangible inheritances. Yet, if the inheritance is money that was deposited into a joint account, it may no longer be considered separate property. On the other hand, if the receiving spouse can prove through bank records that he or she never intended to share the money with the other spouse, then it may be deemed separate property. If the inheritance was given to another spouse as a gift, such as an inherited piece of jewelry given to other spouse during the marriage, this will not be considered separate property.

    Marital Property
    Property that was acquired during the marriage or received as joint gifts is considered “marital property” and thus subject to equitable division. This is usually where couples will disagree over who is entitled to what portion of this type of property. New Jersey courts typically assume that all property a couple owns together at time of the divorce is marital property and must be divided, unless it falls into an exception that permits it to be considered separate property as detailed in part above.

    The Engagement Ring – a Conditional Gift
    Very often the husband may seek to retain the engagement ring as part of the divorce. Under New Jersey law, the engagement ring is considered a “conditional gift”, which means that it is only the husband’s until the time of the marriage. It is a gift conditioned on the idea that the couple will marry. If the couple breaks the engagement prior to the marriage, the ring legally belongs to the person who gifted the ring. After the marriage, the ring is now the sole property of the person who received it as a gift and is not included in the equitable distribution of the property.

    Jewelry Gifts During the Marriage
    Jewelry gifts given during the marriage between the parties are the considered part of the martial property and subject to equitable distribution at the time of the divorce.

    Haddonfield Divorce Lawyers at Kearney & Martone, P.C. Help Clients Understand Equitable Distribution Laws in New Jersey Regarding Gifts
    At Kearney & Martone, P.C., we assist with legal questions in a confidential manner. We are here to help both prior to the divorce and after proceedings have been initiated. From our Haddon Heights office, we serve clients in Camden County, Burlington County and Gloucester County, New Jersey. Call 856-547-7733 today to schedule a confidential consultation with a dedicated Haddonfield divorce lawyer or contact us online.