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What Happens to the Marital Home in a Divorce?

May 26, 2020

Divorce Debt

Divorce can be an incredibly stressful event, especially when the marital couple has valuable assets, like a family home or vacation home. Deciding who gets the home or whether to sell the residence and split the proceeds is an emotional decision.

Mediation vs. Court Involvement

It is not uncommon for divorcing couples to have feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness towards each other, making it difficult to reach rational decisions amicably. Sometimes, it is necessary for couples to rely on the courts to settle issues, such as the division of marital property, child custody, and alimony. The family home and the vacation home are typically the most valuable assets a couple has to consider.

A mediator can help the couple assess the value of the marital assets and determine what rights each spouse has to these assets. In most cases, the value of the family home is shared equally between both marriage partners. In other cases, a home purchased by one spouse before the marriage took place or a home that is inherited by one of the spouses can be considered the sole property of that spouse. If the home was acquired during the marriage or used as the primary residence for 10 years or more, the value is usually shared equally.

What is Involved in Deciding How the Home is Divided?

Before the home divorce settlement becomes finalized, the marital couple must go through several steps, including:

  • Valuing the property: Couples can determine the value of their home, or the court can request a market valuation. A local realtor or surveyor provides an estimate on what the home would be expected to sell for, not the asking price. This valuation can be adjusted according to fluctuations in the market.
  • Determining who owns the property: Divorce situations can become hostile, and when this happens, spouses can act with revenge or spite. When a marital home is owned by only one of the spouses, the other spouse must act quickly and file a notice of home rights with the Land Registry. This will protect their legal rights to remain in residence in the home until the divorce is finalized.
  • Evaluating finances: When a divorcing couple decides to sell the marital home, this can be a very long process. Couples often disagree over the proposed value of the home, what price to list the house for, and how much they will accept for the sale of the home. For a spouse that wants to keep the family home, their reduced income can make it impossible to pay the existing mortgage, especially if they have to buy out the equity of the other spouse.
  • Deciding what is best for the children: The couple must also consider the value of keeping the family residence when there are children involved in a divorce. Considering who will live in the home will depend on who has primary custody of the children. Deciding to sell the home may have a negative effect on the children that can be forced to move away from family and friends or change the school system they attend.

As always, It is advisable for divorcing couples to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer to determine the value of their marital home and who gets ownership of the assets.

Huntsville Divorce Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Help Divorcing Couples Reach Amicable Divorce Settlements

If you are considering a divorce, speak to one of our Huntsville divorce lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. to obtain legal counsel. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 256-539-3110 or 888-539-3110. Located in Huntsville and Athens, Alabama, we serve clients throughout North Alabama, including Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.