Divorce And The Family Home: What To Know
As you might realize, the family home is more than a bunch of "sticks and bricks". A home can stand for stability, security, love, safety, and more. If you and your spouse cannot agree on who should get the home, the judge may be called upon to rule on it. For what factors the judge uses to determine ownership of the home, read on.
Financial Matters – Homes are not inexpensive to maintain. You should be financially ready to take on the obligation. Unless your spouse is helping you pay the mortgage, maintenance, repairs, taxes, and insurance, think again about asking for the home. You might be asked to show proof of your financial readiness.
Custodial Matters – The courts take the well-being of a minor child very seriously. Judges usually want to see a child stay in the family home if possible. The children are accustomed to their room, the neighborhood, the school zone, and more. Divorce can be upsetting enough already for children without being made to get used to a new home.
Flexibility – When the parties get along well, the possibilities of what to do with the home are almost endless. The below ideas represent a sample of what some parties do with the family home when they divorce:
- If the house is of an appropriate size, both parties might consider living together under the same roof – at least temporarily. The real estate market can be tough and interest rates are rising, not to mention rental rates. Separate living areas and a clearly defined plan to deal with expenses should be part of this type of plan.
- If children are involved, some parents may decide that the custodial parent will reside in the home only until the child is 18. Then, the home can be sold, or one party can buy the other out.
- In some cases, it's best to sell the home and split the profit. That allows both parties to move on and begin again.
Mortgage Considerations – Both parties may be entitled to ownership of the home no matter who is on the financing. Instead, the type of state should be a factor. Community property states provide both parties with equal ownership of assets. Equitable distribution states assign ownership based on the full scope of the marital settlement agreement. If the home has a mortgage on it, who pays is part of the debt division.
To learn more about what to do with the marital home, speak to your divorce lawyer.