Divorce is different for everyone who goes through it, and many people have unique objectives and goals when ending their marriage and planning for a new future. For some people, retaining the family home becomes the most significant priority in the divorce.
There are a number of reasons why people become attached to the home they shared with their spouse. Perhaps it has been in their family for generations. Maybe there is simply fondness for the memories attached to the property. This is particularly common if you raise your children in the home. Some people even believe that the house is a winner-take-all asset in New Jersey divorces, so they want to have it for themselves.
While it is possible to negotiate and strategize for the retention of your home in a divorce, you should ask yourself whether retaining it is really important to you.
Keeping the house can mean major concessions and expenses
If you do successfully negotiate terms to retain the home in the divorce or if the courts allocate the home to you, you can expect there to be significant concessions. Your marital home and the equity you have built in it over the course of your marriage are likely the biggest asset you have, other than a retirement account.
It would not be fair for one spouse to receive the house in its entirety. In most cases, even if one spouse retains possession of the home, the court will order them to split the equity in the home with their ex. That spouse will refinance the property and cash out some of the equity. The other spouse will sign all the necessary paperwork to remove them from the title and mortgage for the property.
That loss of equity could mean that your payments are substantial. It could also mean that you will have to pay a mortgage even after your planned age of retirement. In the event that the courts do not order you to split the equity, that likely means that your spouse will retain a substantial asset to offset the value of that equity. Retirement accounts, vacation homes or other valuable possessions like fine art could all be part of that concession.
Focus on your future instead of on your past
Your goal in divorce should be setting yourself up for the best possible life now that you have left your unhappy marriage behind you. While you may have made many wonderful memories in your home, you should still ask yourself whether you will feel the same way about the property in five years after your divorce.
If you don’t see yourself living in that property indefinitely and you no longer have children living at home with you, selling the house and splitting the equity may be a better option for your divorce. Only you can truly make the determination about how you want to approach the house in your divorce.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that unless you and your spouse agree to terms in an uncontested divorce, the courts will still have the final say about how the equity in your house gets divided.