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What happens to the house in a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2020 | Divorce, Family Law, Firm News |

Property division is often one of the most complex issues in a high-asset divorce. When it comes to dividing up a couple’s assets, New Jersey uses equitable distribution, allowing a judge to split the assets based on what he or she finds to be fair and reasonable. In some cases, assets will be divided evenly between the spouses, while in other cases, one spouse may end up with more than the other. However, the judge will make their determination based on the best interests of both parties.

As judges look to divide up the property, they will consider a number of factors including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
  • Separate property or income (non-marital property or property spouse brought into the marriage)
  • Value of all current assets
  • Debts (individual and marital)
  • Education, job experience, job skills, time spent not working outside of the home
  • Standard of living during the marriage

What happens to the marital home?

When it comes to dividing up the property during a divorce, the house is often one of the most important and valuable assets to consider. Many couples decide to sell the house and split the proceeds, while others may choose to keep the house post-divorce. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Selling the home

Many divorcing couples find that selling the marital home and splitting the proceeds evenly is the best option, financially and emotionally. The proceeds can be used to pay off any joint debts and any remaining funds can be split between you and your spouse. However, selling the home may not be the best option if you have young children and want to make the transition into post-divorce life as seamless as possible for them. It may also be better to wait to sell if there is a slump in the housing market.


If one spouse can afford it, it may be better for that spouse to buyout the other by paying fair market value for the other’s share and keeping the home for themselves. While this can be a financial strain for many newly-divorced spouses, if you can afford it, this may be your best option. If you choose to do this, it may be better to refinance the mortgage in the name of the person keeping the house to lower interest rates.

Co-owning the home

In some cases, you and your spouse may not be able to sell the home and neither of you may be able to afford a buyout. In such cases, you may decide to co-own the home. This option will require you and your spouse to work together to pay the mortgage and taxes and ensure that both of you keep up your end of the bargain. If you fail to pay your share, your spouse’s credit score, as well as your own, will be negatively affected.

Before making a final decision, you and your soon-to-be ex may want to consider getting an appraisal to find out the true value of the home. Then, your attorneys can advise you on the best option for you, financially. Homes can carry a lot of sentimental value that cannot be determined in an appraisal. However, it is important to make sure that you don’t let your personal feelings harm you financially. Many divorcing spouses decide to keep the family home, only to find they cannot afford payments or maintenance as a single person.

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