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Strategies to Deal with the Marital Residence in a New Jersey Divorce

In most New Jersey divorce cases, a couple’s marital residence represents the most significant asset owned by the parties. In this regard, there are a number of different strategies that can be used to address the matter of a marital residence in a New Jersey marriage dissolution proceeding.

  • Sell the house and divide the proceeds
  • Buy out your spouse
  • Co-ownership
  • Deferred sale
  • Set up a trust
  • Rental property
  • Mediation or arbitration
Sell the House and Divide the Proceeds

This is a common approach where both parties agree to sell the house and split the sale proceeds. Selling the house allows for a clean break and ensures that both spouses receive their fair share of the property's value. It is important to consult with a real estate agent and legal professional to navigate the selling process and ensure a smooth transaction. They can help you determine the best listing price, market the property effectively, and handle negotiations with potential buyers.

Buy Out Your Spouse

One spouse can choose to buy out the other's share of the house. This involves determining the value of the house and compensating the other spouse for their share. This strategy may be suitable if one spouse has a strong emotional attachment to the property or if they have the financial means to buy out the other spouse. It is important to obtain a professional property appraisal and consult with a financial advisor to determine the feasibility of this option. Additionally, you may need to secure a mortgage or obtain financing to cover the buyout amount and remove the other party from the current mortgage if their name is on the same.


If both parties want to keep the house, they can choose to continue owning it jointly even after the divorce. This requires clear agreements on responsibilities and financial obligations. Co-ownership allows both spouses to maintain a connection to the property, especially if there are children involved. However, it is crucial to establish a formal co-ownership agreement to address issues such as mortgage payments, property maintenance, and the potential sale of the house in the future. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you draft a comprehensive agreement that protects the rights and interests of both parties.

Deferred Sale

In some cases, the couple may agree to delay the sale of the house until a certain event occurs, such as when the children reach a certain age or finish school. This strategy allows the children to maintain stability and familiarity in their living arrangements during significant life transitions. However, it is important to establish a timeline for the eventual sale of the property and outline the responsibilities of each spouse during the deferred period. Consulting with a mediator or divorce coach can help facilitate discussions and create a detailed plan for the deferred sale.

Set Up a Trust

A trust can be established to hold ownership of the house for the benefit of the children until they reach a certain age or milestone. This strategy ensures that the children have a secure place to live and provides financial protection for their future. It is crucial to consult with an attorney specializing in family and trust law to establish a trust that aligns with the specific needs and goals of the family. The attorney can guide you through the process of creating the trust, naming trustees, and specifying the terms and conditions for the eventual transfer of ownership to the children.

Rental Property

If the couple owns multiple properties, they may agree to convert the marital residence into a rental property and share the rental income. This strategy allows both spouses to benefit financially from the property while maintaining separate living arrangements. However, it is important to establish clear agreements regarding property management, rental income distribution, and responsibilities for property maintenance and repairs. Consulting with a property management company or real estate attorney can help you navigate the legal and financial aspects of turning the marital residence into a rental property.

Mediation or Arbitration

If the couple is unable to reach an agreement on the division of the marital residence, they can consider mediation or arbitration to help them come to a resolution. Mediation involves a neutral third party assisting the couple in negotiating and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. Arbitration is less widely used in divorce proceedings. Arbitration involves a third party making a binding decision on the division of the property. Both processes can provide a more amicable and efficient alternative to litigation, allowing the couple to have more control over the outcome. It is important to choose a mediator or arbitrator who is experienced in family law and understands the complexities of property division in divorce cases.

If you have any questions concerning divorce and marital residence in New Jersey, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.

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