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Should You Keep the Family Home After a Divorce?

Updated on December 18, 2019

When people divorce it is a tragedy everything changes. The possessions gained through years of hard work will be divided between the parties involved in the breakup.

Typically, the home is the biggest asset to be split.

Emotions run high, a spouse wants to keep the home and the other half wants to sell it. Ultimately, your finances and family’s condition will guide your decision.

Who Gets the House?

Unless a spouse signs a quitclaim deed giving up their privilege to the house there is no clear-cut rule on who keeps the house after a divorce.

The Arkansas court system decides for both parties in case an amicable settlement was not reached. The welfare of children below 18 years of age is foremost in their decision and the needs of the partners come next.

The financial remedies of the court’s decision are based on the following:

· Children below 18, their needs, and whom they live with.

· The age of each partner.

· The length of the marriage.

· The total value of assets, before, during, and after the marriage.

· The earning capacity of each partner and their obligations during the marriage and onwards.

· The finances and assets contributed by each partner and what they can provide later on for the family’s welfare.

· The lifestyle before the divorce.

· If a partner has a disability.

· The overall needs of each partner.

Can I Get the House Even If It’s Not My Separate Property?

Yes, there are ways you can get the house even if it’s not your separate property.

If a spouse is a lone borrower, he or she can pass the financial obligation to you through a quitclaim deed renouncing the rights to the property and you will be accountable for the liability. However, failure to pay or delayed payments will damage the credibility of your previous partner. Be ready for a reprisal from your ex-spouse with potential contempt claims.

Or an ex-spouse refinances the mortgage to remove the name of the ex-partner from the loan and keeps the house under his or her name. This will result in a new loan that will pay the existing mortgage. There will be excess cash to buy out the equity of the former half.

Another way is to wait for a favorable decision from the courts if an agreement between parties has not been reached. If the suspense is killing you, talk to an estate planning lawyer for legal advice. They can gauge the chances of your claim to the house. The lawyer can give counsel on your rights in case the odds are not in your favor.

Dividing Equity After a Divorce

Buying a house is the greatest investment that a married couple put up and is the most valuable asset in a divorce. When you divorce the marital assets must be divided equally including the equity in the house. Equity is defined as the difference between the value of the house less the mortgage.

Calculate the amount of equity

Find out the balance on your mortgage, it is the sum of the principal owed and the accrued interest. Call your mortgage servicer for the most recent statement, do not rely on your calculations lenders have their method of arriving at figures.

Include any liens, you might have hired the service of an electrician or a plumber and payment were not settled.

Know the value of your home

Hire an appraiser to know the value of your home. Or seek a real estate agent for a market analysis of your home compared to properties nearby.

Determine the equity

Subtract the estimated value from your mortgage. The difference is the equity which is the amount that will be shared by the parties involved in the divorce.

For instance, the estimated value is $200,000 and mortgage is &140,000, the equity is $60,000.

Divide the equity fairly

The rule in community property states an equal division or 50% each for both parties. However, there are situations where a spouse would not want to divide it evenly because he or she paid a big chunk of the mortgage.

· If a spouse worked full-time to pay the mortgage and the other half didn’t.

· A large part of the mortgage was paid from the inheritance of a spouse.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Douglas Parker


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