When you own real estate with your spouse, divorce becomes a bit more complicated. You and your spouse must make decisions about what becomes of the jointly-owned family home or any other properties.
For many people, losing a home is as devastating as the breakup of the marriage. Yet it is necessary to look at the situation realistically before determining what is best for your situation. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, so marital assets are divided in a way that the court finds fair.
The Marital Home
For many divorcing couples, the family home is the largest marital asset. Generally, you have several options when it comes to the marital home during a divorce. These include:
- You can sell the house and split the proceeds
- One spouse can buy out the other’s share
- You can wait until the youngest child graduates from high school, at which time the house is put on the market
The right decision depends on both personal and practical factors. For example, one spouse may want to buy out the other’s interest, but cannot afford the mortgage and taxes on a single income.
Marital Home Considerations
For couples who want a “clean break” from the marriage, especially if there are no minor children involved, selling the marital home is probably the wisest decision. However, disputes may arise on whether the proceeds are split 50/50 or are done via a different percentage.
For example, if one spouse sold their pre-martial home and put the proceeds toward the marital home, that may not result in an equal split. Mediation can help in these situations, perhaps with one spouse agreeing to receive 60 percent of the sale proceeds and the other receiving 40 percent, based on their contributions.
If one spouse buys out the other’s share, that percentage may also not reach 50 percent. The bought-out spouse’s name is removed from the deed, mortgage and the like.
A worst-case scenario occurs when both spouses wish to retain the property. In this situation, the court may have to determine who receives the marital home, and who receives other assets in lieu of the marital home. Keep in mind that if minor children are involved, it is likely that the court will decide that the primary custodial parent will stay in the home until the youngest child turns 18.
Separate vs. Marital Property
In some cases, what may have been considered the marital home is actually the property of one spouse. That occurs when the spouse owned the property prior to the marriage, and the title or deed was never changed to include the other spouse.
The same holds true if the house the couple was living in was inherited by one spouse, and there was no change to the deed or title adding the other spouse. The spouse whose name is on the deed is the owner of the house, and it is considered separate property during a divorce.
Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Provide Skilled Legal Advice on Real Estate Division in Divorce
If you are going through a divorce, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia divorce lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. For a free initial consultation, call us at 888-999-1962 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina from our offices in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, and Pinehurst.