Should You Ask for the Home in a Divorce?

October 27th, 2018 | Posted in Uncategorized

Under North Carolina law, a couple’s marital property shall be divided equitably during a
divorce. Often this means the property is divided equally, 50/50, but not always. A judge must
divide it fairly after looking at a variety of factors, such as the income earning potential of each
spouse before determining how much property each spouse should get.
Most people buy their homes after they are married, so your home should qualify as marital
property. If you are headed for divorce court, you should consider whether you want to ask for
the home or if you want other assets that might be more desirable. In a divorce, you have several
options. One person can ask for the house or you could sell it and split the equity.
Before deciding, consider the following questions.
Is There Still a Mortgage on the Home?
If you do not yet own your home outright, it might make little sense to take the house. For one
thing, you need to assess whether you can afford the mortgage. Although the court could order
your spouse to make mortgage payments, you will live every month in fear that he or she might
miss a payment, leading to foreclosure.
If the mortgage is not entirely paid, look at how much remains. Also take a look at how much it
costs to keep up the home and pay your property taxes each month. These might not be expenses
you can afford after divorce, especially if you do not think you will qualify for spousal support.
Remember, it is possible you could sell the house and divide the equity between you and your
spouse. This might be a more attractive financial option.
Do You Need to Stay in the Home for the Children?
Many couples with young children often find it convenient for one person to stay in the home
after divorce. This arrangement will reduce the disruption on the children by maintaining a sense
of continuity. Typically, the parent with primary custody will stay in the house while the other
parent finds a new place to stay.
However, even if you have young children, you should look at other options. Could you move to
a cheaper house in the same area? Are you tied to the area or can your children adjust to a new
school? Sometimes, a move is not as scary as you might think.
What Other Marital Property do You Have?
Other assets might be more attractive, so you must weigh whether you want them or the house. If
you have investment or retirement accounts, for example, you might prefer those assets since you
can sell them or cash them out more easily than you can a house. In a cold housing market, you
might be looking at years of tax payments before you can find a willing buyer.
Talk to an Attorney before Deciding

Choosing which property to ask for is a difficult consideration and one that requires close
analysis. At Hodges Coxe Potter Phillips, our Wilmington divorce lawyers have helped many
clients negotiate a favorable divorce settlement. To schedule a consultation, please contact us
today.