Separating assets can be a stressful and complicated part of divorce. Luckily, there are a few options for spouses to consider when separating, whether they choose to utilize legal options or work out property division independently.

What factors play a role in who gets the house?

Factors you can’t control, like where you live and when you acquired the house, are evaluated in a divorce. But the court will look at many other factors when working out who gets the house in the divorce, most of which center around your finances and how closely connected you are to the marital assets. Some of the considerations are:

  • If the house is a joint property
  • The value of the home
  • Your financial circumstances
  • Your contributions to the marital home
  • Who has custody of the couple’s minor children
  • Who funds the home
  • Each spouse’s job skills/employability
  • Misconduct of either spouse

Some factors carry more weight than others. For example, whoever gets custody of children will most likely get the home as well. Your state of residence may make a difference too, as some states require equitable (not equal) distribution of assets, or others only classify homes as either a “community property” owned equally or a separate property owned by a sole spouse. Most cases do not use who is at fault in the divorce as a factor in the distribution of property, except in specific instances of abuse.

Below are a few different ways the home is divided in a divorce:

Distributive shares

A judge may choose to give both spouses a share in the marital home, meaning that they both have rights to the home’s value. This may result in one spouse having to “buy out” the other spouse’s share, offsetting the value with other marital assets, or selling the house and dividing the proceeds.

Deferred distribution

A court can also defer the distribution of the value of the house to a later date that makes more sense for the entire family. For example, one spouse may be able to keep the home until all children pass 18 years old, at which point the house will then be sold. If the housing market is experiencing a downturn, a judge may rule to delay the sale for purely economic reasons and require one or both spouses to physically and financially maintain the property until real estate is in a more stable position.

Selling the home

Letting go of a long-term family home can be emotionally difficult, but a judge will often work to make the process as seamless as possible. A divorce order will require both spouses to split the costs, and oftentimes a judge will offer to assign a specific real estate agent. The divorce order will also ensure that the proceeds are split properly between spouses.

Making the decision

A court can help sort out assets justly and decide who has more claim to the marital home. Looking at such a wide spectrum of factors can help bring a different perspective to the debate and make a decision in the best interests of everyone. A court can also help if neither spouse can afford to keep the house on their own. Of course, this is not the only way to make the decision—

couples don’t have to leave it up to the judge to choose who “deserves” the home. Spouses can also reach their own divorce agreement if they find they can settle on their own terms and save the hassle. If you find that you and your partner are able to reach a mutual agreement on the division of assets without interference, you may opt to avoid a court process that adds emotional and financial stress.

Deciding who (if anyone) keeps the house in a divorce may be obvious to spouses still on good terms, but in difficult cases, asset division can be a source of stress and anxiety for the future. Be sure to know your options and the court processes before standing in front of the judge, and evaluate where you stand on all the aforementioned factors that are taken into account.

If the judge rules that you need to sell your house and split the proceeds of the home sale, many will want to get this done quickly to move on with their lives.  Selling your house direct is a good option in this situation.  Make sure you find a reputable direct buyer in your area to be able to communicate with them directly.  Ryan’s Buying in the Greater Milwaukee Area will give you the most fair value for the home so you can move onto your next chapter fast and with less hassle.