Valuing and Determining the Fate of Your New Jersey Home at the Time of Divorce
After the children, few variables in a divorce tend to produce the same level of emotion as the marital home. Couples often spend their lives to purchase, repair, improve and decorate their house. Intangible but no less important “additions” to a family home are the numerous memories that are created there. Divorce presents the often unpleasant task of deciding what to do with one's life work. Contrary to popular belief, deciding the fate of assets at the time of divorce is rarely as simple as a “50/50 split.” Attorneys and the courts work through a case law-guided analysis to determine which assets or portions of assets are subject to equitable distribution in the first place and, conversely, which are fully or partially immune. We've discussed this process at-length here on our blog. If the home is fully or partially distributable, then the end result is sometimes the sale of the home to a third party and the subsequent division of proceeds between the parties and the bank (if one or more mortgages remain on the property). Other times, one party remains in the home with the other party transferring full title to him or her by way of a quitclaim deed. This latter outcome is common when the parties have children in school whom they don't want to displace. The first step is figuring out what the home is presently worth even if it is subject to equitable distribution. We always recommend that our clients retain the services of a licensed real estate appraiser who is capable of looking at other comparable properties in the area and preparing a comparative analysis report. The cost of an appraisal can range from a few to several hundred dollars depending on a number of factors including the availability of comparable properties, and it is often shared between the parties or, alternatively, apportioned entirely to one party if there is a substantial income differential. The appraisal cost is also occasionally merely advanced by one party and left “subject to equitable distribution,” meaning that the cost could still be shared at the time of final divorce when the property is finally divided. It should be evident to you now if it wasn't already that figuring out what happens to your assets during a divorce can take a lot of work. This task is time-intensive enough with known assets (like a home). Attorneys must also be cognizant of the existence of so-called “hidden assets” which rarely come to light before the discovery process is underway even when the other spouse suspects their existence. Don't try to make sense of all of this on your own. If you have a question regarding New Jersey divorce, equitable distribution or, specifically, how to value your assets for the purposes of distribution including the marital home, please contact the family law lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele online today. Call now to schedule your confidential consultation (856) 546-1350 with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.