Home may be where the heart is, but when a couple divorces, the home is not just a place with sentimental value — it is often one of the couple’s most financially valuable marital assets. Some spouses in California may be eager to leave what was a place filled with unhappy memories, while other spouses may be itching to stay established in the home they have been in for years, especially if they have custody of the children. However, there are important things to consider when it comes to the family home and divorce.
If a spouse wants to keep the family home, they will have to consider the expenses associated with home ownership. For example, repairs are inevitable, the mortgage will need to be paid, as will taxes and insurance. Moreover, once the divorce is final, the party keeping the home will be responsible for these costs on a single income. Therefore, before fighting for the family home, it is important to consider whether one can actually afford the home post-divorce.
If a spouse does end up keeping the home after a divorce, they will have to refinance the property in their own name. And, until one’s ex is taken off the deed, both parties will be responsible for the mortgage despite what a divorce decree may say. If the spouse keeping the home fails to pay the mortgage, and their ex is still on the deed, their ex could be liable for the missed payments. So, it is important to take the necessary steps to remove one’s name from the deed if one is not keeping the house.
For all these reasons, some couples choose to sell the home after a divorce and split the proceeds. In the end, as California is a community property state, marital assets will generally be divided evenly unless the couple agrees otherwise. Therefore, if one party is keeping the family home, the other party may be awarded another asset of relatively equal value. Of course, since each person’s case is unique, and this post cannot replace the advice of an attorney, deciding whether or not to fight for the family home may be something to discuss with a legal professional.