One of the biggest issues South New Jersey couples going through a divorce might worry about is which parent will keep the family’s home.
For middle-class New Jersey residents, the family home might be one of their most valuable assets. Many if not most couples also have to worry about at least one mortgage against the property too.
On the non-financial side, the family home can have a lot of emotions and memories tied to it. If the couple has children in the home, one or both parents may feel strongly about arranging things so the kids don’t have to move during or right after a divorce.
In New Jersey, the family home will generally get divided like other marital property. Using a number of factors, the judge will decide on a fair division of the property. A fair division often is but does not have to be 50-50.
Also, Burlington County couples have a lot of leeway to agree on how they want to divide their property themselves.
Whether keeping the family home is wise depends on a person’s situation
When it comes to the home, one option is to sell it, pay off the debts and other costs, and divide the proceeds. But this is not always desirable financially or otherwise.
The bottom line is that if a person wants to keep the home, they have to understand two things. First, they may have to pay off their spouse’s fair share by trading other property or arranging to buy them out. Second, they will be responsible for the home going forward.
They should ask themselves several questions:
- Will I be able to afford ongoing taxes, maintenance, mortgage payments and other costs of keeping up the home?
- Since I may be asked to get my spouse’s name off the mortgage, am I able to re-finance affordably?
- Am I aware of the tax consequences? Usually, dividing property during a divorce does not carry tax consequences. However, that may not be the case when the person goes to sell the home.
- What are my reasons for wanting to keep the home? Is it possible that another arrangement would in the long term be better for my kids and me?
- Assuming there is equity in the home, how am I going to make sure my spouse gets compensation for their share? If not, can I really take on a home that is upside down?
Ultimately, a person’s decision whether to fight for the home will depend on a person’s unique legal and financial circumstances.