When the family home is one of the biggest assets a divorcing couple has, the question of who gets the home will come up quickly. It is highly likely that both spouses have invested in the home financially or in other ways. For example, a spouse who is a stay-at-home parent may still be considered as an investor in the family home. The house is not automatically awarded in any specific way during a divorce. What is the simplest answer to "who gets the house?" Well, it depends. Read on to find out which of the following situations applies to your case.
When You Have Kids
When you have kids, the marital home is typically awarded to the person who is responsible for the bulk of the childcare. The main goals of the court are making sure that the children have a stable home, and avoiding uprooting them unless it is absolutely necessary.
If both spouses are equally responsible for raising the children and both spouses wish to keep the home, the decision could go either way. It is even possible that the court will order the sale of the home so that the equity can be evenly distributed between the spouses.
When You Don't Have Kids
When there are no minor children involved, the question of who gets the home is different. There are usually two major things to consider.
- Is the house the legal separate property of one spouse? If only one spouse legally owns the home, they are likely to retain the home in the divorce. This may happen in cases like inheritance of the home, or when one spouse owned the home independently prior to the marriage. However, in most marriages the home is owned jointly. In this case, the question of support may arise.
- Are both spouses able to support themselves independently? If both spouses own the home and are capable of supporting themselves independently, the court may be likely to order the sale of the home. The equity can then be divided equally. However, if one spouse is incapable of supporting themselves due to disability or for some other reason, the court may award that spouse the home. If the home is owned outright or if alimony is ordered, the spouse who is unable to support themselves can often keep their home. The other spouse may get other marital assets to compensate for the home going to the spouse who can't support themselves.
Every situation can be unique when it comes to divorce, and the court recognizes that a big decision like who gets the home should not be automatic. Working with a family lawyer is often the best way to demonstrate to the court that you deserve to stay in the home that you have worked so hard for.