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3 options for addressing a family home during divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Family Law

The goal of property division proceedings is to divide marital resources and obligations in a fair manner. What is fair can be very different from one family to the next. Spouses can sometimes spend weeks or even months negotiating property division matters before they reach an agreement that they both feel is equitable. Other times, a judge may have to interpret state law after learning about the circumstances of the marriage.

Higher-value resources are often the first priority when preparing for property division negotiations. Judges may also consider higher-value assets more carefully than basic personal property. The marital home could very well be the most valuable and important asset the spouses share. There are many ways to fairly address a family home during divorce. The three solutions below are the most common.

Continued shared ownership

Establishing an agreement to maintain joint ownership is the least common of the three main solutions for the marital home. However, it is an arrangement that works for certain families. Perhaps parents with a special needs child want to try a birdnesting custody arrangement. They may agree to maintain joint ownership to limit the disruptions to the established routine for their child. If the local real estate market has recently softened or couples are in the middle of making upgrades to the property, they may agree to maintain joint ownership until they achieve certain goals, at which point they can sell the home and share the proceeds in a specific manner.

The sale of the home

Sometimes, neither spouse could afford the mortgage for the home on their own. Other times, it is the memories attached to the property that leave people wanting to move on instead of staying in the home. Spouses can agree to sell the property and divide the income from the sale. Doing so can provide both spouses with resources for rebuilding their lives.

Sole ownership by one spouse

Many times, especially when there are children involved, one spouse keeps the home. That does not necessarily mean they retain all of its equity. They may have to refinance and withdraw equity to compensate their spouse. Otherwise, they may have to give up certain other resources, like retirement savings, in consideration of the home’s value. Spouses have the option of negotiating for any of these three outcomes as they prepare for divorce. If they cannot reach their own settlement, then a judge may ultimately decide what is the fairest and most reasonable solution.

People who learn the basics about property division may feel a bit more confident as they prepare for divorce. Equitable distribution can be unpredictable but should ultimately be fair for each spouse.

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