A big question for those going through a divorce is what will happen with their home or other real estate. We all need a roof over our heads. Yet homes are much more practical and sentimental than simple shelter. These days especially, we depend on our home to live and work. A home inherited, constructed, or renovated can also hold memories and amenities, more valuable to one divorcing spouse than the other. For many of us, equity in a home or other real estate is also the most valuable asset we have.
Equal, or Equitable, Division
The simple answer to the question of what happens to a home in a divorce is that the law divides it. The basic property division in divorce is equal, whether that property is real estate, intangible assets like stocks and bonds, or vehicles and other personal property. The law begins by presuming that each spouse gets half of the assets (and half of the debt, by the way). The law may then adjust an equal division so that it is instead equitable, meaning fair under special circumstances. Those circumstances can include:
- when one spouse brought the asset to the marriage;
- when one spouse is disabled or otherwise incapable of earning income;
- when one spouse inherited the asset or received it by gift.
Yet obviously, one cannot divide a home as one divides a bank account or retirement account. Half a home is nothing if division means literally cutting it in half. Instead, the spouse who finds the home more desirable or suitable may negotiate to retain it. Of course, that means giving up other assets that represent half the equity in the home. One spouse may thus keep the home while the other spouse gets more of the investments or retirement. If divorcing spouses cannot agree, and neither makes a compelling argument about why they should not get the home, then the trial judge is likely to order the home sold and the net proceeds divided.
The Help You Need
You can see that what seems simple initially can get complicated quickly. Negotiation and advocacy over a marital home, including its valuation, can be the most critical step in managing a divorce. Proper advocacy can help both spouses see the benefit and agree on an acceptable consent judgment. Poor advocacy or no representation can result in a wasteful and hurtful mess. Call (704) 470-2440 for the skilled legal team at the law firm of Caulder & Valentine or go online for an appointment in Shelby or Gastonia. The lawyers at Caulder & Valentine know how to make divorce work.