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Who Gets the House in a Divorce?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019
Categories: Blog, Division and Valuation of Property

Since the home you share with your spouse is likely one of the most valuable assets involved in your divorce, you’ll definitely want to know how it’s treated under California divorce law. The question of who gets the house is far from simple but, in general, the statutes regarding the division of assets apply. There are more complex issues that you should discuss with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, but some background information may be helpful.

Ownership is the Initial Consideration

Before getting to the issue of who takes the house in divorce, you’ll first need to determine who owns it. The question revolves around the concept of marital versus separate property. Community property states like California will usually presume that a home purchased during the marriage belongs to both spouses. When a spouse bought the house before marriage, it’s usually considered separate and not subject to division in divorce.

However, the issue may become murky when one name appears on the deed and the home was purchased after the couple married.

Methods for Dividing the Interests in the Marital Home

Ultimately, the house will be distributed according to what the court orders. How it gets into the final divorce decree may vary, and there are two ways of handling the issue:

  • Agreement: If you and your spouse can compromise on how to divvy up interests in the home, a court is not likely to disturb your agreement. To protect your rights, you should consult with an attorney during negotiations, finalizing the agreement, transferring title, and preparing the order.
  • Court Hearing: When parties to a divorce cannot agree, a court will make a decision on who gets the house after conducting a full hearing on the issue. There are countless factors a judge will consider, such as who gets custody of children, a determination on alimony, division of other assets, and others.

Property Division Options for Parties to Consider

Regardless of whether the house is the subject of an agreement or a judge’s decision, there are multiple alternatives.

  • Sale to a Third Party: Both spouses may relinquish their ownership interests in the home by selling it to someone else and distributing the proceeds. Note that the division of the sale funds may not be exactly 50-50, as there may be equitable reasons to deviate from an exact split.
  • Buyout: One spouse may buy the other out, either through direct payment, applying amounts gained through division of other marital property, assuming the mortgage, or combinations of these structures.
  • Deferred Sale: It’s possible to keep the home in both of your names for a designated time period, at which point you’ll sell and divide the proceeds. A deferred sale is often wise when there are school-age children and the custodial parent wants to remain in the home.

Contact a Century City Divorce Lawyer to Discuss Real Estate and Other Marital Assets

For more information or answers to additional questions on who gets the house in divorce, please contact the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein. You can set up a consultation with a Century City divorce attorney by calling 877.721.4551.

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