How to Divide a Home in a Divorce

by Scott Morgan on January 16, 2013

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The process of getting a divorce in the US can be extremely long and complicated. Deciding who gets the family home is just one of the many difficult decisions that couples are required to make when they separate. In many divorce cases, the home is the most valuable asset. Additionally, the mortgage is usually the divorcing couple’s biggest shared liability. Regardless of whether a divorcing couple decides to sell the home or allow one partner to keep the home, there are potential problems.

Problems that Occur When One Spouse Keeps the House

As described in detail in a post I did on house issues in divorce, if one spouse will be keeping the home then he or she will should have the home refinanced in order to remove the other partner’s name from the mortgage. Sometimes, the spouse who keeps the home will not have it refinanced. As the result of this, the other spouse’s name remains on the mortgage despite the fact that he or she is no longer has an ownership interest. If the spouse living in the home stops paying the mortgage then negative information will appear on the other spouse’s credit.

Couples should have re-financing issues worked out before the divorce has been made final. The divorce judgment should include a time limit on refinancing. It should also include provisions that will be made if the home goes into default or is foreclosed.

Selling the House

If the divorcing couple decides to sell the home and divide the equity then things should go smoothly. In some cases, the divorce judgment will designate one spouse to be responsible for making all of the arrangements that are necessary for selling the home. The other partner may be required to pay the mortgage.

The spouse who has been granted possession of the home may take a long time to sell it. In order to avoid problems, the divorce judgment should include the steps that each partner is required to take. It should also include a timetable for selling the home. Additionally, the steps that will be taken if the home is not sold within the set time frame should be included in the divorce judgment.

About the Author

Scott Morgan is a Houston divorce lawyer and founder of the Morgan Law Firm which has offices in Houston and Austin.  See additional articles on the firm’s websites and blogs.

Scott Morgan
Morgan Law Firm is dedicated exclusively to representing clients in divorce and family law matters. Founded in 1994 by Scott Morgan, the Morgan Law Firm strives to diligently represent its client's interests and conclude their cases fairly and expeditiously.
Scott Morgan
Scott Morgan
Scott Morgan

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