Many married couples choose to buy a house together to put down some roots and possibly start a family. If you buy a home with your spouse and eventually get divorced, deciding who gets to keep the house may become a source of contention. After spending so much time in your marital home, it is likely that both you and your spouse feel a sentimental attachment to the house and want to continue living there after the divorce.
However, from a financial perspective, keeping the marital home after your divorce may not be the best option for you moving forward. Before deciding, consult with a family law attorney, so you can make the best choice for your future.
Both Virginia and Washington D.C. family law courts follow equitable distribution laws when dividing up the property in a divorce. This means that while the court will not divide the marital property (property purchased during the marriage and/or with marital funds) evenly between you and your spouse, it will divide the marital property fairly and equitably. In many cases, the marital home was purchased during the marriage will be considered marital property, and therefore, couples will have three options:
- Sell the house and split the proceeds.
- One spouse keeps the house, while the other gets something of equal value (e.g., retirement account).
- Both spouses agree to postpone the sale and temporarily maintain ownership.
Should I fight for my marital home?
Many people decide to fight for their home in the divorce for personal reasons, but it is best to leave emotions out of it and decide whether you can truly handle the house on your own. Before you decide to fight for the house, you should consider answering the following questions:
- Can you afford the costs of owning the home without your spouse’s contributions (e.g., mortgage payments and maintenance costs)?
- Is it worth giving up financial stability for the house?
- How will your children be affected if you sell the house?
- Do you only want to keep the home for sentimental reasons?
Deciding whether to fight for your house in the divorce is a big decision. It may be beneficial for you to consult with an attorney on these matters before making any major decisions.