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WHO GETS THE HOUSE IN A NEW JERSEY DIVORCE?

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

In a New Jersey divorce, the division of assets, including the family home, can be a complex and contentious issue. New Jersey follows equitable distribution laws, which means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between the spouses. Determining who gets the house in a New Jersey divorce depends on several factors, and it's essential to understand how the courts approach this matter.

  1. Marital vs. Separate Property: The first step in determining who gets the house is distinguishing between marital and separate property. Marital property typically includes assets acquired during the marriage, while separate property comprises assets owned before the marriage or acquired through inheritance or gift. Generally, marital property is subject to equitable distribution, while separate property remains with the original owner.

  2. Factors Considered by the Court: New Jersey courts consider various factors when deciding how to distribute marital property, including the family home. Some of the key factors include: a. Length of the marriage: Longer marriages tend to result in a more equitable distribution of assets, which may include the house. b. Financial contributions: The court will examine each spouse's financial contributions to the marriage, including income, expenses, and mortgage payments. If one spouse primarily funded the house, they may have a stronger claim to it. c. Non-financial contributions: Contributions such as homemaking, childcare, and maintenance of the property are also considered in the decision-making process. d. Custody of children: The court may prioritize awarding the house to the custodial parent to provide stability for the children. e. Age and health of each spouse: The court may take into account the age and health of each spouse when deciding who should get the house, especially if one spouse has specific needs. f. Future earning potential: The court may consider the spouses' future earning potential and financial needs when determining the property division.

  3. Negotiation and Mediation: In many cases, divorcing spouses can reach an agreement regarding the distribution of assets, including the family home, through negotiation or mediation. This approach allows couples to have more control over the outcome and can help them avoid the time and expense of a courtroom battle. If both parties can agree on who should keep the house or how to divide its value, the court will often approve their settlement.

  4. Sale of the House: If neither spouse can afford to keep the house, or if there is no agreement reached, the court may order the sale of the property. The proceeds from the sale are then divided according to the equitable distribution principles.

  5. Buyout Option: In some cases, one spouse may want to keep the house and is financially capable of doing so. In such situations, the court may allow one spouse to buy out the other's share of the property. The buyout amount is typically based on the current market value of the home.

Who gets the house in a New Jersey divorce is a complex matter that depends on various factors, including the length of the marriage, financial contributions, non-financial contributions, child custody, and more. While New Jersey courts strive for equitable distribution, this does not always mean an equal split of assets. Mediation and negotiation can provide divorcing couples with more control over the outcome, and in cases where the house cannot be reasonably awarded to one party, a sale or buyout may be necessary. It's essential for divorcing couples to seek legal counsel to navigate the intricacies of property division in a New Jersey divorce and ensure a fair and just resolution.


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