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Who will get the house in the divorce?

It is generally human nature to develop emotional attachments to our belongings. As children, we have a favorite toy. As adults, we have a favorite sweater.

Even though the emotional value of toys and sweaters might be high, their financial values are often quite low. The same does not apply to the family home. 

A person's home is often one of the most valuable assets they own – in both financial and emotional value. This is precisely why the house can be one of the most difficult assets to divide in the event of a divorce.

Virginia law requires spouses to divide marital assets equitably. And there are a few ways that divorcing spouses can manage the family home when negotiating a property settlement agreement, depending on their circumstances.

Here is a brief overview of these options.

How can spouses divide the house?

Spouses have a few options when it comes to dividing a house classified as marital property. They can:

  • Sell the home: Many spouses divide the home equitably by selling the home and splitting the home equity.
  • Defer the sale: If one spouse wishes to stay in the house for a period, divorcing spouses can agree to sell the house at a later date and then divide the equity. This is a common arrangement if young children still live in the house.
  • Refinance or buy-out the other spouse: However, if one spouse wants not only to continue living in the house but own the house, they might have the option to purchase it. This requires a few steps. Usually, individuals must refinance their mortgage to keep the house during a divorce and cover their ex-spouse's portion of the mortgage. Spouses should also calculate the equity as if they were going to divide it. Then the spouse who wishes to keep the house pays their ex-spouse the amount they would receive in equitable distribution.
  • Co-own the house: It is possible for divorcing spouses to continue owning the home together. For example, they may want to try this if they are attempting a birdnesting arrangement that allows the children to stay in one place. However, this arrangement is often one of the more complicated options.

Selling or dividing the family home can seem like an emotionally overwhelming decision. And the process is often detailed and complex. But the experienced attorneys at Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, can help divorcing spouses through every step of the property division process and ensure their assets are protected.

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