During a divorce in Washington State, a litigated property division process follows the principle of equitable distribution. This means that courts aim to divide marital assets and debts fairly and justly, though not necessarily equally.
Washington is a community property state, which means both spouses (generally) jointly own all property and debt acquired during the marriage. As such, everything, including the marital home, is divided according to the law or by mutual agreement between both parties during divorce.
Possible ways to address a marital home
Generally, there are three main options to consider when determining a marital home’s fate during divorce.
Selling the home is a clean break that allows both parties to split the equity. They can potentially invest in their own properties or cover other expenses.
If one spouse wishes to keep the home, they can buy out the other’s share. This is often done by refinancing the mortgage to remove the other spouse’s name from the loan and property title.
Some divorcing couples choose to maintain joint home ownership for a specified period. This is usually until their children reach a certain age or the market improves. After that time passes, they sell or buy out.
Factors to consider when deciding on the best option
Determining the best approach to handling the marital home requires careful consideration of several factors:
- Financial implications: Assessing each spouse’s ability to afford the mortgage on a single income, including property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs, is crucial.
- Emotional attachment and stability: For many, the marital home is emotionally significant, especially if children are involved.
- Market conditions: The state of the real estate market can significantly impact the decision.
- Tax implications: Selling the home or buying out the other spouse can have tax consequences, including capital gains tax.
- Future plans: Each spouse’s future housing needs and financial goals should be considered.
Navigating a decision concerning how a marital home should be addressed during divorce requires a comprehensive evaluation of these factors, often with the assistance of financial advisors, real estate professionals and legal counsel. This effort can help a person going through a divorce make a decision that supports their financial well-being and emotional health, laying a foundation for a more stable future post-divorce.