If you or your spouse bought your house before you got married, then you may be able to retain it through a divorce as a separate asset. But most couples buy homes together, and they tend to do it after they’ve officially been married. This makes it a marital asset.
In a case like this, you may find yourself wondering who gets to keep the home. There are a few things to consider.
You can buy your partner’s half
If you would like to keep the home but your partner has a claim to half of the value, you may have the option to buy that value from them. You can purchase their share, refinance and take over as the sole owner. The most common ways to do this are by getting a new mortgage or by giving up other assets – like a retirement account – in exchange for the home, if it is already paid off.
You could keep it together
You do have the option of jointly owning the home, whether or not you’re married. That is not a requirement. This isn’t something that divorced couples often do, though, because it can get rather complicated and they have to work together closely after splitting up. Additionally, it means you could be liable if your ex fails to make mortgage payments. But this tactic can be beneficial in a situation in which you want the children to be able to stay in the same home or if you’d like to sell it when you think the local housing market will have increased.
Selling the home
If no other alternatives can be found, the easiest option is to sell the house. You and your partner can then split up the earnings. Even if the house wasn’t fully paid off, as long as you sell it for more than you owe on your mortgage, this can be a nice way to create some income right before your divorce is finalized.
The legal process
No matter what you decide to do, make sure you know what legal steps to take. Things can get complicated and a house is a major asset that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you need to explore all of your options.