After child custody, the most dreaded aspect of a divorce is most likely property division. Who gets what, who owns what and who came into the marriage with what—these questions are highly contested in family law and can drag out the divorce process for a painful amount of time. One of the main assets fought over is the residential house.
There are a few main ways to handle the house in a divorce.
Sell the house
One of the most efficient ways to divide the equity in a house is to sell it. With the proceeds, the couple can pay off the remaining mortgage, settle the taxes and related expenses and then divide the remaining money. Getting rid of the house allows the couple to untangle their finances from one another and also settles the property division quickly.
One party keeps the house
Refinancing the mortgage is one of the best ways for one party to become the owner of the house. This way, the house isn’t a jointly held asset anymore. With a new loan, the old mortgage no longer applies and cash is freed up to buy the other ex’s share of the property. A lot of this depends on whether one party can qualify for the loan based on their income. Similarly, it also depends on what the two parties agree on what the value of the house is.
Both keep the house
The parties may not be able to sell the house for a variety of reasons, such as the fact that parties owe more than what it is worth or the market is not right. The spouses may also not be able to afford to keep two separate houses. Couples may also decide that the only way to provide stability to children during an emotional divorce is by keeping the house.
When deciding who gets to keep the house, both spouses should take into account how much money it takes to maintain the house and for its upkeep. Having an open and honest discussion about what to do with the residence is not always easy for couples to do given the way a divorce is proceeding, so an experienced attorney may be able to pave the way for couples to do so.