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Who gets the house in a New Jersey divorce?

Your home is a huge part of your life. Aside from the sentimental value it likely holds, you and your spouse may have put significant financial efforts into your home over the years.

Some couples spend as much as 30% of their average monthly income on their mortgages, and you may have already dedicated a decade or more toward repaying the principal balance on your mortgage. It is normal for New Jersey couples to worry about what will happen to their homes when they divorce. Is keeping your home and option – and what are some key considerations to keep in mind if so?

The basics of property division in New Jersey

To determine if you will be able to keep your marital home, you first have to learn how New Jersey handles divorce proceedings. When it comes to property division, New Jersey applies the equitable distribution standard. If a divorcing couple requires a judge to make decisions about property division, a judge will attempt to fairly divide both income and property from during the marriage between both spouses.

The home where you live is likely a marital asset to which both of you have a partial claim. A judge could potentially order the sale of the home instead of allocating it to one spouse. Other times, one spouse may keep the home.

If one spouse stays in the marital home, the other might receive either some of the equity from the property or other assets from the marital estate worth roughly the equivalent value of their share of the equity in the home. Even if you don’t get to keep the house, you will at least have the right to receive your share of the property’s financial value in the divorce proceedings.

Keeping the home isn’t always a smart goal

Some people will financially overextend themselves in a divorce because they insist on keeping the home and can barely afford their mortgage obligations after the divorce. Others may not have any financial issues but will not have the time necessary in their daily life to handle all of the maintenance and cleaning the home requires without the support of a spouse.

You need to have an honest look at your financial circumstances and consider whether the emotional association of the home with your marriage might make living there after the divorce less pleasant. It is possible for some people to protect their financial interests in a home without fighting for ownership of it in their divorce.

If keeping the home truly is your goal, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with your spouse that allows you to retain the property without putting your other assets at risk. Learning more about the rules that apply to property division in New Jersey divorces will help you navigate divorce negotiations or help you prepare for litigation.