In the event of a divorce, who gets the family home?
“I recently asked my husband to move out of our home (which he did) and I am now planning to divorce him. As we discuss the financial aspects of our divorce, he wants to keep the family home, and get me to move out. What are my rights? Thanks!”
Dear Liz: You mentioned in your letter that you have been married thirty years; lived in this home for twenty-two years; you have no mortgage, but you are using a Home Equity Line of Credit for $124,000. And the home is registered in both your names. Your house is worth around $600,000.
First, this is a question of law – and the proper person to address your question is a lawyer who specializes in family law matters. Having said that, I can give you some general information here, and also point you to a useful website for further information.
In my opinion, divorcing couples should try to agree on as much of the terms of their agreement as possible among themselves, with the caveat they both retain independent legal counsel before signing off to ensure they are on the right track and not signing a one-sided agreement.
There is $476,000 equity in your home – and you are each entitled to half of the equity – regardless of who ends up living in the home. If you are okay with hubby keeping the house, it would be transferred into his name; presumably he would need to finance the property afresh, and give you a check for your share. (Adjustments may be made to reflect costs etc.)
In the event of a divorce, do try to resolve any disputes rationally
If you want to keep the house as much as he does, then you have a dispute on your hands. You may be able to resolve it amicably among yourselves, or you may seek mediation, or you can both ‘lawyer up’, and have your day in court.
As a general comment, Liz’s case is pretty clear cut, without complications. They could have been a common law couple; or the home could have been owned by one of them prior to marriage (and the marriage did not last long) or any number of other issues.
So if you and your spouse are heading towards a split, research the law, and look for a cost effective, sane, calm way to resolve as many of the issues as possible.