For many couples, their home represents one of their most valuable marital assets. For the purposes of a divorce, its current fair market value will be offset by the current balance of any mortgage, home equity loan, or other liability encumbering it; the couple’s equity in the marital home is what is important.
If the couple has any school aged children living in the marital home, the marital home is considered much more than an asset because it is a home base for the children. Generally speaking, a court is unwilling to disrupt the children significantly to divide the equity in the marital home between divorcing parents unless it will simply not be affordable after the parties separate. In such cases, a court is likely to defer the division of the equity in the marital home until the last child graduates from high school or attains the age of 18 or to offset the equity against some other asset to be taken by the parent who leaves the marital home.
Other real estate owned by a couple can be divided at the time of the divorce without delay. Again, it is the equity (fair market value less any mortgages or other encumbrances) which is important.