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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

Dividing Your Property During Divorce

Everyone knows divorce is emotional situation, but it can also wreak havoc on your finances. One of the many decisions the two of you need to make during a divorce is, what to do with your house. Should one of you stay in your primary residence to keep the kids in the same school, or should it be sold so that the profits can be divided according to an agreed-upon formula? There is no one right or wrong answer, but there can be wrong decisions.

The best way to protect yourself and your assets is by making decisions based on logic rather than emotions. So, before finalizing a divorce — particularly a property settlement – I believe it's essential that both parties receive sufficient expert advice to understand what the long-term ramifications of debt and property division REALLY means in the real world.

Of course, the first thing most people want to know is: What is the house worth? What is the fair market value? Negotiating a divorce property settlement depends on a fair, impartial and accurate assessment of the value of the property to be divided. But, who determines how much the real estate is worth? For an accurate evaluation, you’ll need the expertise of a professional real estate appraiser.

Once you have determined the fair market value, you’ll need to subtract the existing mortgages to find out what your current equity is in the property. Along with gathering the numbers, it is helpful to review the names on the mortgage and deed. If one of you keeps the house, will the other still be held accountable for any missed mortgage payments and will your credit score will be affected?

A real estate agent can provide a Comparative Market Analysis which will help you gather information regarding the range of the value for the house. Notably, a real estate professional can advise as to the improvements, fixes and etc. that will help you show the house for the best and highest potential price. The real estate agent can advise as to recent sales in your neighborhood and what you can expect if you are selling the house. You will also need to know how much the house will cost you every month. These costs include, but are not limited to, the monthly mortgage principal and interest, the homeowner’s insurance and real property taxes. In addition, there are costs such as water, sewer, electric, gas/heating that need to be factored into a decision.

The botton line is, if you have decided to divorce your settlement should be determined based on true, accurate and complete information and as always, the best possible outcome depends on having experts on your team who can anticipate the subtleties of the settlement process.

Fortunately, you do not have to “go it alone” in looking at all of the issues surrounding the keeping, selling or buy-out of your house. At Van Tassel Law, I work with a team of professionals. Not just any professionals, but ones that stick to their areas of expertise, and are familiar with the issues divorcing families face, that can assist you valuing and dividing your property in a way that provides for your family’s future needs.

If you need a trusted divorce lawyer in New Jersey for advice and/or assistance on property and related financial matters as well as for a range of family law matters, my boutique law firm Van Tassel Law specializes in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

I have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience in family and divorce law and over the past 20 years and have built a reputation for clarity and effectiveness and above all A Kinder Approach To Life's Legal Issues.” If you have any questions do not hesitate to call me for a free consultation or visit my website at

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