Divorce is a journey full of complexities, especially when it come to property division. If you’re facing a divorce in New Jersey and trying to sell a home at the same time, you may be wondering about the potential outcome. New Jersey divorce law is intricate and assertive, meaning that the courts wield extensive discretionary power to achieve equitable division of marital assets, even if this involves selling real estate.
This is why seeking legal counsel is of paramount importance before matters escalate to this point. At Ziegler Law Group, LLC, our team of proficient family and real estate attorneys are ready to provide the essential support and advice you need throughout the divorce process. As we delve into the intricate details of how divorce impacts the sale of a shared or previously shared home in New Jersey, remember that you can always reach out to our offices for personalized assistance in a free initial consultation.
What Happens to a Marital Property in a Divorce?
Although you may be able to conduct the sale of your marital property in a harmonious manner, there is always the chance of a property dispute during divorce. One spouse may wish to keep the home, the other doesn’t. Similarly, there are cases where you both wish to keep the abode.
So what happens?
Every divorce is different, so the answer depends on the agreement both parties eventually reach. Generally, you have four options when it comes to your NJ home during a divorce:
- Equitable Asset Division: If substantial marital assets constitute the estate, equitable division may be the answer. For example, if your marital assets are divided between your main residence, a vacation home, cars, stocks, art collections, and other large assets, you may be able to split these things down the middle.
- Co-Ownership: In cases where amicable relations persist, co-ownership surfaces as a viable alternative. You can make plans for who pays the bills or who does the maintenance. This is also useful for when you want to sell the house after your divorce is finalized.
- Monetary Buyout: Frequently, divorcing parties gravitate towards a buyout arrangement, wherein one spouse purchases the property from the other. Usually, the property is sold at less than market value. This is often an option when you have children who wish to continue going to their current school.
- Market Sale: The fourth option is to sell your house through a real estate agent. The resulting profit is distributed equitably, liberating both parties from any hindrances during the divorce. Due note that if you were not on the property for longer than two years, you may have to pay capital gains tax.
What to Know About Selling a House During Divorce in New Jersey
Within the legal fabric of New Jersey, the principle of equitable distribution governs the apportionment of marital assets during divorce proceedings. This rule states that assets acquired jointly or individually during the course of the marriage may be deemed marital property. This encompasses the family home, a vacation home, and any other thing you and your spouse acquired together.
Thus, when you plan on selling property before a divorce settlement, the division of said marital property often occurs one of two ways: either through collaborative discourse or judicial intervention. Certain factors are taken into consideration during these discussions, including the duration of your marriage and the financial standing of you and the other party.
All that said, the actual act of selling a house during divorce typically follows the same pathway of any other real estate transaction. Whether you opt for a conventional sale through a real estate agent or expedite the process with a cash buyer, the main goal is the sale of the property and subsequent distribution between both parties in accordance to New Jersey divorce law.
How to Sell a House During Divorce in NJ
Although the sale of marital property during a divorce seems straightforward, the fact that you are getting divorced makes the situation unique. The process demands that you and your spouse work together for the time being to ensure the prompt sale and distribution of profits between you both. Here are the steps required to successfully sell your home during a divorce:
1. Preparing the Property
Prior to selling your marital residence, you must do any pre-sale repairs. You and your spouse should agree on the allocation of expenses when preparing your property for sale. For this, you may wish to have a NJ divorce attorney or mediator present.
2. Selecting a Real Estate Agent
Choosing a real estate agent requires extra consideration during a divorce. Avoid using an agent with connections to either spouse to maintain fairness and prevent conflicts of interest.
3. Determine the Sale Price
Mutually agree on the sale price for the marital home, ideally documenting this agreement in writing and submitting it to the court for a clear record.
4. Accept an Offer
Both spouses must agree to any offer received on the property. It's important to remember that unreasonably withholding acceptance of a suitable offer could lead to sanctions in certain cases.
Participating in the home sale closing is a joint responsibility. You must both participate. In the event that you cannot be in the same room, virtual meeting technology may be used.
Can a Judge Force You to Sell a House During Divorce in NJ?
Yes, it is possible. In divorce proceedings, judges typically prioritize mutual agreement between spouses when it comes to property division. While it's uncommon for a judge to mandate the sale of a marital home, they encourage spouses to collaborate and find common ground. In cases where agreement proves elusive, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation, are often recommended. However, there are scenarios in which the court may deem the sale of the home to be the most equitable solution.
Two primary situations stand out in which a New Jersey judge might compel the sale of a home as part of a divorce: equitable distribution of marital assets and liquidation of assets to cover alimony or equitable distribution arrears. However, it's important to note that the decision to sell a home isn't solely based on the divorce itself. A plethora of factors, including available liquid assets, investments, future income, and other properties owned, contribute to determining the equitable division of marital assets.
While couples may opt for a settlement where one spouse retains the marital home and provides equitable distribution payments over time, this approach isn't always feasible. If other avenues for equitable division fall short, or if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge might rule in favor of selling the marital home and subsequently distributing the proceeds.
Looking to Sell a Home During Divorce in New Jersey?
The process of selling a home in New Jersey amid a divorce is an intricate undertaking. It is influenced by the law of equitable distribution and, thus, requires that you both agree on the sale. In some situations, the court may need to rule on the sale of your marital property.
At Ziegler Law Group, LLC, our team of divorce attorneys in NJ understands the intricacies of selling property during a divorce and are dedicated to guiding you through this process with compassion and expertise. Our experienced team is here to provide the necessary legal support, ensuring that your rights are protected and the transition is as smooth as possible. Contact Ziegler Law Group, LLC today to receive personalized legal assistance tailored to your unique situation.
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