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What happens to the family home during a divorce?

Most couples going through a divorce own some joint property. A judge must divide this property before the divorce is final. 

Unfortunately, that division often involves the family home. Divorcing couples often face common questions about what might come next. 

Will the judge split the house 50/50? 

Not necessarily. New Jersey courts distribute property fairly between the two parties based on specific criteria. According to FindLaw, a judge investigates certain factors to determine an equitable split, including: 

  • Income 
  • The established standard of living 
  • Contributions to the property 
  • Earning capacity 

Should I buy out my spouse’s share? 

It depends. If you have primary custody of the children, keeping the stability of the family home makes sense. However, if you cannot afford to make the mortgage payments, it may not be a prudent choice. 

What happens to the mortgage? 

If you or your spouse agrees to buy out the other’s share, whoever buys will refinance the mortgage under his or her name. Otherwise, many couples choose to sell and take their percentage of the proceeds. 

What if my spouse will not sell? 

You may not be able to pay the mortgage alone. A sale is necessary, but your spouse will not cooperate. In this case, you may need to compel your spouse to sell through court intervention. 

What if I bought the house before the marriage? 

If you bought a home before the marriage, the courts generally will not consider it marital property. However, this may not be the case if your spouse contributed significantly to the home’s value, or you added his or her name to the deed.