Property division is often one of the most challenging aspects of divorce, and few assets elicit as much fervor as a marital home. Not only is a shared house usually quite valuable from a financial perspective, there are also strong emotions tied to it.
If the family home is marital property (and that is likely the case), it will need to be considered along with all other marital assets during the property division process. Separating couples can reach an agreement themselves as to what should happen with the marital home. If that doesn’t happen, then the court will decide what is equitable given the circumstances.
Whatever the case, there are generally four common outcomes. Here is a brief look at each.
One spouse takes the home
If one spouse feels strongly about taking sole ownership of the home, they may be able to arrange an exchange. That spouse can buy out the other’s interest in the property, or agree to what is essentially a trade of equally valuable marital assets.
When this happens, the spouse keeping the home is usually expected to refinance in their name alone. The party taking the property should ensure they have sufficient income to cover expenses, including the mortgage, utility bills, repairs and maintenance, association fees and other costs.
Sell the home, split the proceeds
This can be a fair solution if neither person is particularly attached to the house, or if it does not make sense for either individual to live there on their own. Once the property is sold, the proceeds are divided between each spouse – in an equitable manner, not necessarily a 50-50 split.
One spouse remains temporarily with a child
If the former spouses have a child together, moving with the minor may be too much of an upheaval. If this is the case, both parties could agree that one of them will continue to live in the marital home until the child is an adult and moves out. There could be an agreement to then sell the home.
Continue to co-own
While not a common outcome, it is possible for both spouses to continue to co-own the home. Maybe they are willing to remain under the same roof because of a child. Or they might attempt to convert the property into a rental. Whatever the case, this requires continued involvement with an ex. If this is your path of choice, be prepared.