Before you ask the courts to determine what will happen to your home in a divorce, you need to understand their approach to splitting up your property. New Jersey is one of a majority of states that currently employs the equitable distribution standard when it comes to splitting up the assets and debts a couple accumulated during their marriage. The intent behind equitable distribution is to find a fair way to split the marital estate between the divorcing spouses.

However, the division of marital assets often becomes complicated and contentious, especially when the spouses both have an interest in maintaining specific assets. The marital home is often the asset that people have the strongest desire to retain in a divorce, and it is also one of the assets that cannot reasonably get shared or split.

While one spouse might retain possession, both likely share in the equity

The courts will want to establish a fair market value for the property and determine how much equity you have in the home before deciding how to split it. It is common for one spouse to retain possession of the marital home while refinancing to share some of the accrued equity with their ex.

In some other situations, the courts might use the value of the home equity to offset other valuable assets, such as a pension or your vacation home. If you have extremely low levels of equity or if it seems unlikely that either spouse can carry the mortgage for the property by themselves, the courts could also order the sale of the home, with each spouse receiving a portion of the homes sale price.

If you and your estranged spouse aren’t able to agree on what to do with your home and you have to ask the court to step in and make the decision, your attorney can help you make the case for the outcome you’re seeking.