What happens to the house during a divorce?

July 13, 2017

in Dakota County Divorce

What happens to the house during a divorce?If youre in the midst of a divorce or considering filing, there are likely a lot of things on your mind. The divorce process is stressful, emotional, expensive and confusing. Sometimes, youre faced with questions that you have a hard time answering because it seems like theres no good answer. Other times, youll experience questions that you dont feel like you understand well enough to begin to guess. One area where you might lack information concerns your home and what happens to it during a divorce. In the hopes of shedding a little light on the options you face, take a look at the following discussion of approaches to handling the house.

What if one party wants the house?

If only one spouse wants the house, its cause for happiness, though not necessarily outright celebration. Why no celebration? After all, there is no need for a big fight about the marital home, a common source of contention. Though its better than when both parties want the house, it doesnt mean there isnt still opportunity for trouble. The reason is that just because someone wants the house doesnt mean he or she can actually afford it. If only wishing made it so

If someone wants the house, the next step is to try and determine if he or she can afford it, on their own. This last part is critical. When you divorce, you will almost always want to insist that if you arent keeping the house, the spouse who is must refinance to release you from the mortgage obligation. If the refinancing never occurs, you will remain legally responsible for the house, regardless of what the divorce decree says. If the spouse who wants the house isnt in a financial position to qualify on their own, it may not work out, dashing that persons hopes and forcing you to think through another solution.

What if both parties want the house?

If both parties want the house there is, unfortunately, no way to ensure both people get exactly what they want, someone will have to give. A house, after all, cant be divided in two and isnt subject to shared custody arrangements. Though it may take a while to reach agreement, youll eventually need to settle on one person to remain in the home and the other person to get something else of value in return. If theres equity in the house, it isnt fair for the person remaining in the home to get to keep that valuable asset while the other person gets nothing. Instead, the party with the house will need to offset this asset in some other way. Perhaps the person with the house gives up some retirement funds or a savings account. Perhaps they simply buy out the other party, giving him or her half the equity in the house. Though there may be some upset feelings, the end result is that someone gets to walk away with the house and the other person gets an asset of similar value.

What if no one wants the house?

This is a relatively painless outcome. If no one wants the house, then theres no need to fight and no need to refinance. All you need to do is sell the thing. Sometimes, even that can prove difficult, with slow real estate markets or inflated ideas of the value of the house standing in the way of a quick sale. When that happens, the problem that can arise is the parties are stuck paying for not only the house, but their alternate housing, something that can get expensive pretty quick. Finally, once the house sells, youll need to divide up either the profit or, in some unfortunate cases, the loss.

An experienced Minnesota family law attorney can help walk you through the difficult process of divorce, including offering advice on confusing financial issues such as alimony and helping negotiate emotional subjects like child custody arrangements. For more information on divorce in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source: What Happens to Your Mortgage in a Divorce?, by Ashley Eneriz, published at Time.com.

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Joseph Flanders of Flanders Law Firm LLC is a family law and estate planning lawyer. For further information, check out his website or you can contact him by sending an email

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