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Dividing a house during divorce

New Jersey couples who wish to end their relationship may wonder about staying linked together well after the divorce if they own property together. Generally, real property that is mortgaged in both individuals' names will continue to be the joint debt of both spouses even after the divorce if additional steps are not taken to further sever the liability.

One way to eliminate this connection is to sell the house and pay off the existing mortgage. However, this may not be an option for some couples if one of the spouses still wishes to retain the residence or if the house has decreased in value. An alternative may be for the spouse who wants to keep the house to refinance the mortgage in his or her name alone. Refinancing can help get the mortgage placed in one person's name while relieving the other party from the obligation. Cash refinancing may help one spouse pay off the contribution that the other spouse made toward the home.

One important precaution individuals should take prior to acquiring a new mortgage or refinancing is to run their credit report. A big change in a credit score can indicate a potential problem. If there is an error, spouses may be able to fix this issue before they apply for a mortgage. Additionally, individuals may need to take steps to get their credit in better shape.

Determining how to dispose of a significant asset like a family home can be a difficult decision laden with complex considerations. Homeowners may wish to discuss their options with a family law lawyer. He or she may be able to describe advantages and disadvantages that are available to the homeowner.

Source:, "How to Divide Your House in a Divorce", Scott Sheldon, July 09, 2014

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