Tanya: There’s just so much money that can go around. Unless you have a lot of money, you really can’t always live the way you used to after a divorce. People say, “Oh, I’m entitled to the same lifestyle.” I’d say that’s a misconception.
I think that would be a common scenario where, and maybe I’m going to be sexist here, the wife who wasn’t working or wasn’t making as much money says, “Oh, I’m entitled to the same lifestyle.” However, there’s just so much money that we have to work with. The husband needs an apartment or a house also where the children can visit.
So that same $100,000 or $200,000 that was in the household before, now has to pay for two households, two sets of bills and it’s not going to go as far. It’s not possible to really maintain exactly the same lifestyle following a divorce.
Dispelling Sexist Myths about Divorce Settlements
Interviewer: How about the adage where the wife automatically is awarded half the assets or the husband will always have to support the wife? Are those misconceptions?
Will the Wife Automatically Receive Alimony? Not if Her Income Dramatically Exceeds Her Husband’s
Tanya: Oh, absolutely, sexist issues are not recognized in the courtroom. I’ve had cases where the wife making several million dollars a year and the husband makes $50,000 or $75,000 a year. The husband receives alimony or the husband is awarded a large amount of money. That’s one preconceived notion that is just out of date with the times.
New Jersey Is an Equitable Distribution State and the Courts Can Divide Assets at Their Discretion
Regarding assets, New Jersey is what is called an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts have the right and the discretion to divide assets as they deem fair or equitable. Most of the time, if people have been married for a period of time and assets are in joint names, most of those assets will be split 50/50. For assets such as businesses, for example, if the husband has a business acquired during the marriage, but the wife did not participate in the business, it’s very unlikely that she would get 50% of the business. She would receive a smaller percentage, absolutely.