On Your Side

What happens to the family home in divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2019 | Property Distribution

Usually, the family home is the most expensive asset that individuals own. But a home is more than a financial investment—it is also an emotional one. And these emotional attachments can make dividing the home incredibly difficult during a divorce.

What will happen to the house during the property division process is a common worry for individuals dealing with a divorce. So, here is a quick overview of how spouses can approach dividing the family home.

First: Find out the value

The first step before deciding what to do with the family home is to determine its value. It might be necessary to obtain a professional appraisal, but there are several online resources that can help spouses calculate the value as well.

This is a critical step, no matter what.

Divorcing spouses have the option to buy or sell the home

After that, there are generally only a few options to handle the family home during a divorce. The two most common options include:

  • Selling the house: Spouses determine the value of their house and the home equity. Then, they sell the home and divide the profits based on New Jersey’s standards of equitable distribution.
  • Buying out the house: If one spouse wants to keep the house, then they must determine what each spouse would receive in equitable distribution if they sold it. Then, they must pay their soon-to-be-ex-spouse their portion of the home equity to purchase the house from them. 

Could we continue to co-own the house?

However, it is possible for divorced spouses to establish an agreement that allows them to continue owning the house together. This option is becoming more popular with the trend known as “birdnesting.” 

In this trend, children live in the family home they are used to, and parents take turns living in the home depending on their parenting time. As opposed to dividing the actual house, spouses only divide their time within the home. 

This option greatly depends on a family’s circumstances and goals for the future, and may not last forever. 

Spouses have several options to weigh when deciding how to handle the family home in a divorce, but this allows them to choose the option that best suits their family’s needs.