If you are considering going through with a divorce or are already in the middle of one, you more than likely feel overwhelmed with the multitude of decisions that need to be made.
Finding a new place to live or deciding to stay in your marital home is one of the biggest decisions to make during a divorce, especially when children are involved. If you do decide to move, you have to worry about finding the perfect home near the best schools, insuring your car at a different address, and other tedious things like forwarding your mail.
It is no secret that your life flips upside down when you make the choice to divorce. There is so much change, and it affects children in the same stressful way, if not worse. If kids are a part of the situation, the last thing one wants to do is make life harder on them during an already stressful situation by making them abandon their home.
Here are a few important things to consider when deciding who gets the home in a divorce.
Why You Would Want to Keep the House
There are people who would rather abandon any and everything associated with their marriage once divorced, which is perfectly okay! But there are also people who want to stay in their marital home after a divorce, and this is fine too.
However, there have to be solid reasons for who gets to stay in a home after a divorce. Especially if both parties want to keep the home or if one partner wants to sell it.
Staying Put for the Children
Children that are still in grade-school can easily experience a form of trauma from the divorce. If you add moving and abandoning all that they know to the mix, it can be emotionally distressing for them.
In cases where children are noticeably and severely affected by a divorce in a negative way, parents may benefit from nesting co-parenting. This is where the children stay in the marital home while the parents move in and out of that same home to alternate caring for them.
This way of living requires complete open-mindedness but can help to ease the stress of the transition for the children.
Being Emotionally Attached to the Home
Believe it or not, being emotionally attached to a home can be a compelling enough reason to not want to move out of the marital home. This may be more accurate for those who were not completely in agreement about getting a divorce but had to because their partner insisted on one.
People attaching emotionally to a home is not a completely absurd thing when you consider how much work and effort is put into making a house a home. It can also be the case sometimes that the house has been passed down in one’s family for generations.
It should also be noted that emotional attachment is just as good a reason to leave the home too. Emotions can be unreliable at times, and you would never want to make a vindictive or spiteful decision based on heightened emotions.
In the end, if you get the home because of spiteful emotions, you will probably feel just as frustrated and unsatisfied as you did before while you were fighting for it.
Being the Sole Owner of the Home
Another thing that is not out of the ordinary is the family home is not a marital asset. This means that the property the family lived on was not purchased by both parties, or it was purchased by one party before the marriage.
If this is the case, then you are legally privileged to have the home unless a judge states otherwise. Obtaining ownership of a home that you are not a legal owner may be a bit more difficult, but it is not completely impossible.
Can you afford the home by yourself?
The cost of living is extremely expensive nowadays. Couples are even living together before marrying because it is less expensive, so there can be a financial shock to at least one of the parties as they transition into a single income source. Or if one was not working, no source of income at all.
A practical issue to consider during a divorce is the administrative tasks. Paying the mortgage, taxes, homeowner fees, and any other household finances, make being able to afford the home a deciding factor when it comes to keeping the house. It would be amazing staying somewhere you are familiar with but if you cannot afford it, you will grow uncomfortable with it pretty fast.
Try to Figure It out With Your Ex-Spouse
Figuring things out in a divorce can be civil if both parties are willing to be fair and understanding. The things that couples and divorcees fight about the most are children and money. So if a pair can figure out visitation outside of court, they can figure out who gets the house outside of court.
Usually, you two know your situation better than a judge, who is a complete stranger to your history and the needs of your family. Deciding to have the court decide on who gets the home can make the process much more stressful for everyone involved, including the children.
Here are some questions that you two can ask and discuss between yourselves to decide on who gets the home:
- Are children involved? If so, who cares for them the most?
- Who is more financially capable of finding a new place to live?
- Who can afford the home?
- Which one of you wants to stay in the home?
- Is nesting co-parenting something that we can do?
What to Expect if You End up in Court
Going to court should be the absolute final option when deciding who stays in the marital home and who moves. Different states have certain laws that dictate how a judge handles your specific case.
In California, judges are required to evenly split all marital property. So if you live in that state, you may not get the house if you go to court. You would be forced to sell it and split the proceeds or buy out your spouse to keep the home. For example, if your home has $80,000 in equity, a judge can grant you the house but you will have to pay $40,000 to your ex as their half of the share.
In other states, they prohibit either party from selling a marital property during the divorce process. This applies even if one person’s name is on the property.
With that being said, it is best practice to learn the laws associated with your current state and to consult an experienced family lawyer so you are properly informed and prepared if you have to take this issue to court.
Imani Francies writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsurance101.com. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.
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