No matter who initiated your divorce – whether you, your spouse, or by mutual agreement – it is bound to represent a loss. Even couples whose relationship is fraught will be emotionally impacted by the end of a marriage, and there’s a likelihood that there will be an economic impact as well. Divorcing couples go through a process known as equitable distribution that requires that all marital assets be evaluated and divided in a way that leaves both parties with roughly the same value. While this is a fairly straightforward process for liquid assets like bank accounts, the marital home is an entirely different story. Usually, either the home will end up being sold and the proceeds split, or one of the two spouses will keep the house and have to offset the shared value with cash or other assets. In some cases, couples opt to continue co-owning, allowing the children and one spouse to continue living there until their kids have all graduated. These arrangements are variable, but usually have a defined end date and specific terms regarding mortgage payments and maintenance and utility bills.

The first question that needs to be answered when it comes to a marital residence goes to whether it is considered marital property. If the house was purchased by one spouse before the marriage and the other spouse’s name was never added to the title, then it is not considered jointly owned. This makes it much more likely that the non-owning spouse will need to move out and will not be entitled to any of the home’s equity.

If the house was purchased during the marriage, it is jointly owned and is subject to equitable distribution. While selling the house and splitting the profit is almost always the neatest resolution, it is not always the easiest thing to do emotionally or the right thing to do for the family. If there are children who have grown up in the home, then forcing them to leave may compound the impact of the divorce. This is often a strong consideration and determining factor when deciding what to do with the marital home.

If a couple agrees that one of the two of them will remain in the house and become the sole owner, then the remaining spouse needs to have the house and any attendant mortgages put into their own name and provide the other with a buy-out of their equity. This may be in the form of cash or other assets.

If you are a married homeowner who is approaching divorce, it is important that you have experienced legal representation and guidance. Contact us today to learn about how we can help.

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