The Marital Home in New Jersey Equitable Distribution
Equitable distribution in New Jersey refers to the division of marital property and assets in a fair but not necessarily “equal” manner. This can be confusing for those just starting the divorce process who may have interpreted equitable distribution to be a 50/50 split of marital assets; however, this method of distribution ensures that all aspects of the marriage are taken into account for a fair agreement. Dividing the marital home in New Jersey equitable distribution is generally the largest asset to be divided.
The first step that the New Jersey court takes in equitable distribution is identifying which assets are subject to distribution. This usually includes property acquired jointly or personally after the marriage, such as the marital home, vacation homes, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and businesses. After the marital assets and property are determined the court will asses the value of these assets and decide how to equitable distribute them. The court considers many factors when making this determination.
To Sell or Not to Sell the Marital Home
The division of the marital home in New Jersey equitable distribution comes up in most divorces and can be a relatively simple or complicated process. For many couples the marital home is a major financial and emotional issue. Families with children may not want to sell the home to keep the children’s status quo or one or both spouses may be attached to the home they have invested so much time and money in. The most straightforward and often the easiest option is to sell the marital home and divide the proceeds accordingly. The funds from the sale can be divided equally or unequally depending on the rest of the marital settlement agreement.
If selling the home is not preferred for financial, personal, or family reasons, one spouse can buy out the other’s equity. If both spouses’ names are on the mortgage, the buying spouse must refinance the home in his or her name. Your attorney will help you settle on a timeline with your spouse for refinancing. The buying spouse must also make sure he or she can take on the costs of the home. Upon closing and executing a New Jersey quitclaim deed the selling spouse will receive their share of the equity. Responsibility for any costs associated with refinancing such as appraisal, title, and attorney fees should be addressed in the settlement agreement.
For some couples, especially those with children, continuing to co-own the home may be the preferred option. This is a common choice for families with older children who would have a more difficult time leaving the home. If this is the case, the home is neither sold nor refinanced and one spouse, usually the PAR (parent of alternate residence) will move out. When the children graduate or there is no longer a reason co-own, the house will be sold and the proceeds distributed according to a previous or new agreement between the parties. This option requires a great deal of cooperation between the parties as communication is vital to keep mortgage payments and household bills up to date.
Dividing the marital home in New Jersey equitable distribution must be taken very seriously, especially in cases where there are children and or an outstanding mortgage. Contact us today to discuss your options during a free consultation.