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Divorce and the family home: Three options

Determining how assets are split in a divorce can be a complex legal issue. For some, the thought of splitting the family home can be a contentious concept. This asset is most likely not only the most expensive asset the couple owns, but it can also be one with great sentimental value.

When trying to determine how to split this asset, these three options are often top considerations:

  • Give it to the kids. Although the home isn't exactly deeded to the children, the court may decide the parent that has full custody of the children should have the home in an attempt to better ensure the children's lives are as minimally disrupted by the divorce as possible.
  • Sell it. The property could be sold and the profits divvied up between both parties. This does not always mean the profits will be split equally. The court will take a number of considerations into account when making the split, such as who put the most money into the property, made repairs or improvements as well as if one spouse paid for the bulk of the down payment or mortgage.  
  • Offer to give up something else. In some cases, if one spouse is set on keeping the home, he or she may offer to give up a different asset of similar value. One common example is an offer to trade the family home for a similar value in retirement assets. Although this can result in what seems like an even trade in the moment, it is generally not a wise one for future financial stability. Retirement assets accumulate and can be difficult to rebuild. Any attempt to trade out these assets for a home should be very carefully considered.

Unfortunately, there is no right answer. The right answer for your situation may be very different than the right choice for another. As a result, it is often wise for those who are navigating these issues to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. This legal professional can discuss the pros and cons of each option, advocating for your interests and working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.

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