What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce?
One of the most difficult issues that comes up during a divorce is what to do with the family home. More than just another asset to be divvied up, the home is the place where the family gathered for evening meals, where holidays were shared and where children grew up. In addition to holding this sentimental value, the home may be one of the couple’s most valuable assets. As a consequence, some couples have trouble reaching an agreement on how to divide the property.
If a divorcing couple can’t agree, the court must decide how to equitably distribute the family home as part of a final divorce judgment. Equitable distribution is the process of dividing marital property, which consists of assets that were acquired by the couple either together or individually during the marriage. That usually includes the family home.
Just because the family home is a marital asset, however, doesn’t mean that each spouse is entitled to half of its value. Rather, New York law requires that the marital assets be distributed fairly, with the judge considering not only the monetary value of each asset but also the contributions — both economic and non-economic — that each spouse made to the marriage.
One factor the court will take into account is whether there are minor children still living in the home. New York Law gives the judge discretion to consider the need of a custodial parent to occupy or own the marital home and to use or own its household effects.
After taking all the relevant factors into consideration, the judge may decide that the couple should do one of the following:
- Arrange for one spouse to buy out the other’s equity
- Sell the house and divide the proceeds either equally between the spouses or in a manner that compensates a spouse for foregoing ownership of another asset
- Co-own the house for a certain period of time and then sell the house and distribute the proceeds in the fashion that the court deems equitable. This option is often well-suited to allowing children to remain in the home until reaching maturity age or completing higher education.
Often, the divorcing spouses can reach a marital settlement agreement that includes provisions for the disposition of the marital home. Hiring an attorney experienced in negotiating division of property in a divorce is vital to assuring that you receive a fair share of all marital assets.
The Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. is a family-focused, Christian law firm based in Rochester, New York. We’re experienced in all aspects of divorce litigation and are committed to advancing our clients’ best interests. Call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.