Does moving out mean you lose the claim to the home in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Asset Division

In the early days of your divorce, you will have to make some important decisions. For example, will you continue staying in the marital home, or will you move out to someplace else temporarily until the courts resolve your divorce?

By the time you have decided to file for divorce or after your spouse files, you may not want to live in close quarters with them anymore. Still, your house is probably one of your biggest assets, and you don’t want to endanger your claim to it.

Is it true that you cannot move out of the marital home without risking losing it entirely in the divorce?

Your shared ownership is not the result of possession but investment

When you move into a home, you take possession of it. However, you do not have to have possession of the actual piece of real estate to be the owner or shared owner of the property. Your ownership interest established over years of investment during the marriage will not evaporate in an instant if you move out to avoid conflict during your divorce.

While it is true that moving out of the house disrupts your possession of the property and might make it less likely for you to keep the home, your shared ownership interest in the property is not at risk just because you move to a separate location to live. The New Jersey family courts try to be equitable or fair when they distribute your marital property, which usually includes your home.

If you acquired the house during the marriage, if you used any marital income to pay for it or if your name is on the title to the property, you can still claim an equitable share of the home equity in the divorce even if you move out and let your spouse continue staying in the house. While both spouses can’t continue living in the house after the divorce, each can still expect to receive a fair and appropriate portion of the home’s value.

Staying in the marital home isn’t always the best outcome

Although the home is valuable, continuing to live there won’t necessarily be the best arrangement. It might be cost-prohibitive to pay for the mortgage, insurance and taxes without a second adult contributing to the budget. There are also the memories associated with your ex to consider.

Moving on and simply accepting the financial value of your share of the home might be the better solution. Really thinking about your priorities and your long-term happiness can help you set realistic goals for the property division process in your New Jersey divorce.