Legal Representation for Monmouth County Residents Seeking Divorce
Dividing real estate is one of the complex issues that may come up in a divorce. There may be a marital home, vacation home, investment property, or commercial property at stake. If you have one or more properties and plan to dissolve a marriage, it is wise to retain a divorce attorney who understands property division and real estate issues in this context. The Monmouth County lawyers of Goldstein, Bachman & Newman have over 100 years of experience handling family law cases involving significant assets. Our firm also has a residential and commercial real estate department. We are able to keep your real estate matters “in-house” and do not have to refer our clients to other law firms to handle aspects of their divorce case that may involve their residential or commercial real estate properties they may own and have to address as part of their divorce proceedings. We have extensive knowledge and experience in real estate, mortgage loans, foreclosures, etc. We can conduct a detailed investigation of your real estate holdings, as well as your debts and liabilities, and retain experienced appraisers and other experts to determine the appropriate value to be assigned to property interests.
Equitable Distribution of Real Estate
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court strives to fairly distribute marital property. Separate property is not affected by divorce, although complicated issues can arise if it is not clear whether a piece of real estate is marital property or separate property.
The equitable distribution of real estate that is marital property will be determined by:
- The date the property was purchased;
- The date of the marriage;
- The date of your separation from your spouse;
- The amount of the down payment and the source of it;
- The amount and source of monies used to pay for: improvements made to the property after the marriage; the periodic mortgage payments, sweat equity by a spouse to improve it;
- The value of the real estate at various stages, including the date of purchase, the date of marriage, and the date of separation; and
- The ability of one party to buy out the other party's interest.
The marital home is often the most valuable asset a couple owns together. A parent who is a primary caregiver may be able to stay in the marital home when a couple divorces, particularly if the children are high school age. In certain situations, the house can stay in both parents' names until the children are no longer living in the home, and then the house can be sold. However, this arrangement can make it difficult for the non-custodial parent to find other housing because of the impact on his or her credit. Additionally, this arrangement can be challenging if the divorce is acrimonious or if communications have broken down between the spouses.
The division of other real estate holdings may be less emotionally challenging. Your spouse is entitled to an equitable distribution (this does NOT mean EQUAL distribution; rather, it means what is fair, or equitable) of any real estate that is considered marital property. In some cases, a spouse has sufficient income to buy out the other spouse's interest in vacation homes or investment properties. However, the court does not always consider an equitable distribution to be a 50-50 split. In many cases, it is a wiser course of action, and a more straightforward plan, to simply sell any vacation home, investment property, or commercial property that is considered marital property and split the proceeds between the spouses. In many instances, the parties cannot agree on the fair market value of a property. It is then necessary to secure the services of an independent real estate appraiser to provide an appraisal to demonstrate the value of a property. Even then, there may be dispute. The appraisal process is NOT a science; it is more of an art. There is subjectivity involved which may require your attorney to question the comparable sales or other valuation methodology which the appraiser utilized.
Consult a Middlesex County Attorney Skilled in Family Law Matters
During a high net worth divorce, it is crucial to retain attorneys with experience in the division of valuable and complex assets for individuals in Middlesex County and beyond. At Goldstein, Bachman & Newman, our family law lawyers are experienced negotiators and creative problem-solvers who can help you determine real estate interests, retain knowledgeable experts to place a value on real estate, investigate your family's assets, and handle all communications so that the properties can be fairly and equitably divided. Visit us at our main office in Old Bridge or our satellite office in Freehold, New Jersey. We also serve clients from Manalapan, Rumson, Red Bank, and other communities throughout the state. You can contact us at 732-360-9300 or via our online form.