In divorce, what to do with the house?

On Behalf of | Dec 31, 2019 | Divorce, Family Law

For many divorcing couples, the family home is the largest asset that you will need to divide. It also presents some unique challenges for the divorcing spouses.

For instance, if there are young children, the parents may not want to disrupt their stability by forcing the kids to move and get used to a new home, neighborhood, perhaps even school district. Yet, allowing one parent to retain the use of the home may rankle the other parent who does not benefit from its use and shelter. What can be done?

Get the home appraised

Many Minneapolis family law attorneys recommend that each spouse retain their own appraiser. However, if money is really tight, it’s generally acceptable to share the cost of an independent appraiser who has ties to neither spouse.

Once the home is appraised, the next thing to do is determine the equity in the home. Do this by subtracting what’s still owed on the home from it’s appraised value. What’s left is the equity.

3 basic options

In a divorce, there are typically three dispositions for the family home. it can be sold outright with the profits divided between the spouses. Or, one spouse may buy out the other and refinance the mortgage in solely one name.

The third option is to agree to do nothing right now with the home. In addition to preserving continuity for the kids, there can be other good reasons for taking this approach. Perhaps it’s a buyers market in Minneapolis right then, or the house is under water financially. If there are children, the parents may be trying bird’s nest parenting regarding their custody.

If you decide to defer the sale of the home until the kids are grown, this concession can sometimes be leveraged against other community property decisions. One example might be for the primary wage-earner to agree to continue paying the mortgage for a certain number of years in lieu of paying spousal support.

A provision will be inserted into the agreement that when the house is sold at some future point, the proceeds will be divided according to the terms of the agreement.

Be creative with settlements

Each divorce scenario is unique, so it’s fine to get quite creative solving your marital property dilemmas. Retirement accounts, collections and even cars or expensive jewelry can all be used to offset an ownership in the family home. You and your family law attorney can brainstorm ways to net you the best possible settlement in your divorce.