How is a Marital Home dealt with in a Divorce?
One of the issues that litigants in divorce cases often encounter is deciding how to distribute or divide a marital home. A house is considered an asset in divorce proceedings and is therefore subject to distribution amongst the parties. Obviously, you cannot literally split a house in half – instead, there are a few different options available for people encountering this issue.
First, both parties may agree that they do not wish to maintain the house, and wish to sell it instead. In this event, the house is typically placed on the market with a mutually agreeable realtor, and the parties cooperate in making any repairs necessary for the home to sell at a reasonable price. Once the home does sell, the most common resolution is the parties equally splitting any net proceeds once all closing costs (and any other associated fees) are paid off. Of course, litigants can agree outside of Court to a division of net proceeds that is not equal; however, if the case goes all the way to trial, the Judge will typically do an equal division.
Second, one party may decide they wish to remain in the home post-divorce. In this event, the party electing to remain in the home will typically have to pay the other party half of any equity in the home. In order to determine how much equity is in the home, it is advisable to retain a mutually agreeable expert to appraise the home. If there is a disagreement as to the value of the home (and the resulting equity in the home), that is a dispute that the Judge will have to resolve.
Occasionally, one party may desire to sell the home while the other party is dead-set on remaining in the home. In that event, a suit for partition must be filed. A partition action essentially asks the Court to order the forced sale of the home, even over the objection of the other party. It is incumbent upon the Court to make a decision in this regard as equitably as possible.