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Fairly addressing the marital home during divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Property Division |

Investments in a marital home can lead to long-term financial benefits as a couple builds equity in the property. However, not all couples keep living in the same house indefinitely or sell their property together. They may divorce instead.

How can a New York homeowner who is facing divorce help to ensure that they receive a fair portion of the equity accrued in their marital home?

Learn about the law

Some people put themselves at a real disadvantage by agreeing to certain terms with their spouse that the courts would never impose during litigation. For example, someone who feels shame over filing for divorce might agree that their spouse can simply keep the marital home to reduce the strain on the children in the family. That generous move could deprive them of their fair share of home equity and put them at a financial disadvantage in the future.

If property division matters go to court in New York, the law requires an equitable division of the marital estate. Judges look at both the assets owned by the spouses and the debts that they owe to determine what would be a fair way to divide both. Typically, each spouse would have an interest in a portion of the home equity. Factors including financial and unpaid contributions to the household, as well as the duration of the marriage, can directly influence what judges decide.

Look at the house objectively

Homes represent significant emotional value to the people who live there, but they are also economic resources. Spouses preparing for a New York divorce need to have an understanding of the current fair market value of the property if they want to request a fair share of its equity in the divorce.

Many spouses choose to hire an appraiser to set the current value for their home, although real estate agents can also help estimate what the house would be worth if sold on the current market. Spouses can sometimes negotiate property division settlements where they both agree to specific terms. They could literally split the equity of the property or use other assets to balance out the home’s worth. Other times, spouses must go to court to settle property division matters because they cannot reach an agreement with one another.

Ultimately, understanding the rules for property division and what the home is worth are both very important for someone who is preparing for a divorce in New York. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to receive informed, personalized feedback in this regard.