As a general rule, you have the right to seek ownership of your New Jersey home after a divorce. This may be true even if your spouse was the one who owned the property during the marriage. There are several strategies that you and your attorney might use to help you keep your home.
How will you pay for it?
Even if you take possession of the home as part of a final settlement, your spouse will likely be entitled to 50% of any positive equity accrued during the marriage. If you have sufficient cash in the bank, it may be possible to simply buy this person out without refinancing the mortgage. However, you might need to refinance the existing home loan so that the equity can be withdrawn from it.
Can you afford the total cost of ownership?
In addition to making the monthly mortgage payment, you’ll need extra cash to furnish, repair and maintain a home. Therefore, you will need to strongly consider whether it makes sense to spend money on a home as opposed to putting it in a brokerage account.
Will you need to give up other assets?
It’s possible that your spouse will only give up ownership of a home in exchange for other assets. Those assets may include funds inside of an IRA, 401(k) or taxable brokerage account. You may also be asked to give up an art collection, furniture or other items in exchange for the right to stay in the marital house. Your divorce attorney might be able to help you determine if making such an exchange is in your long-term financial interest.
An attorney may be able to help you learn more about property division laws and how they might impact your ability to retain the marital home. Your legal adviser may also be able to review a prenuptial agreement, attempt to find evidence of hidden assets or take other steps to help you obtain a favorable settlement.