Determining who gets the house during a divorce is one of the most complicated legal matters in divorce proceedings for a variety of reasons. A house is usually the most important possession that two individuals may have, so there is always some degree of difficulty in deciding who is entitled to receive the home during a divorce.
Also, many individuals hold an emotional attachment to their home or may have children that live in the house as well. When it comes to this issue, the court will generally intervene and make a decision on who the home belongs to or may also decide that the property belongs to both parties equally.
So, what are the factors that play a crucial role in the determination of home ownership during divorce proceedings? A division of assets attorney from our office answers this question below.
A House Can Be Community Property
The biggest issue in determining who gets the house essentially falls on the fact of who owns the house. While California has some laws that specify the clear ownership of specific properties acquired during the marriage, there is a high degree of ambiguity that concerns home ownership.
Primarily, if both parties purchase a home during a marriage, it can legally be considered as community property. In that event, the home will equally belong to both parties.
In a similar case, if one spouse purchased the home, the asset may still be considered community property if the spouse used “community funds” to purchase the home.
Sometimes assessing ownership in the matter of who bought the home doesn’t always solve the case. For example, even if a married individual bought a home with their own capital, the other spouse can effectively argue that there was a form of understanding or agreement that both individuals owned the home.
If thorough evidence can be provided of that assumption, the court may declare the home to be community property.
A House Can Also Be Separate Property
The constraints of community property fall outside of the barriers of marriage. Therefore, if an individual purchased a house before the marriage, that property belongs solely to that individual.
In the same case, any properties purchased after the separation date of the couple belongs solely to the individual that purchased that said property. However, this matter becomes more complicated if the former spouse made financial contributions to the mortgage or utilities of the home.
In this case, the spouse that has made these contributions will effectively own interest in the home, which can amount to a significant number, especially in a long marriage.
The Dissolution of Property
In the event that both parties cannot reach a decision on who owns the home, the most feasible option is to sell the property and divide the profits accumulated in the sale. This usually happens when neither spouse is in a strong financial position to solely own the home.
Another effective method of settling this dispute is for one spouse to simply take full ownership of the home and pay the other spouse his or her share. This method is suitable if a spouse has made significant financial contributions to their family home.
For more information, speak to our division of assets attorneys today.