Determining what happens to the marital home is often one of the most highly contested issues couples encounter during divorce. As the largest and most sentimentally-valuable asset most couples share, it can be a real struggle to figure out who gets control once the dust has settled. While couples have the right to negotiate this issue on their own, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the courts may step in and issue a decision on their behalf.
Who Owns the House?
One of the biggest factors determining what happens to any piece of real estate after a divorce is when the property was purchased and how it was used during the marriage. For example, if the property was purchased by one spouse prior to marriage, it may be considered a separate asset and belong exclusively to that spouse. If the property was used as the primary marital home, however, or if it was used as a source of marital income, it may have been converted to a marital asset and is therefore subject to equitable distribution.
If both spouses have an equal ownership interest in a home, there are many strategies that can be used to divide it without a fight:
- Buy out: One spouse may “buy out” the other spouse by paying them for their share of the home’s equity. This is especially preferable if spouses share children, as many parents will desire to maintain a sense of normalcy and avoid selling the house to allow the kids to continue to live there.
- Sell the house: Many divorcing couples choose to sell the house and split the proceeds. Some choose a 50/50 split, while others base the proportions on the percentage of income each spouse brought to the marriage.
- Compensate with other assets: Another popular strategy is to allow one spouse to keep the house in exchange for compensation in the form of other assets, such as vehicles, savings accounts, or investment accounts.
- Mesher orders: A third option is for one spouse to defer to receive compensation for the house until it is sold when the children move away or the other spouse remarries, known as a Mesher Order. The downside of this arrangement is that both spouses remain on the home’s mortgage, oftentimes making it difficult for the party who has moved out to obtain another mortgage to purchase another home.
Regardless of the specifics, the process of valuing a home and negotiating its division can expose divorcing couples to various legal pitfalls if not handled with the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you and your spouse have decided to part ways, our award-winning East Brunswick divorce lawyer at Rozin | Golinder Law, LLC can provide the time-tested and trusted legal guidance you need to achieve a smooth resolution.
Call (732) 810-0034 or contact us online today to discuss your situation in detail.