Getting a divorce in West Palm Beach is tedious because aside from regularly working with your attorney, you also have to work with your ex-spouse to create a marital settlement agreement. Ideally, this agreement stipulates essential information, like maintenance payments, possible parenting plans, and most especially, property division.
Contrary to popular belief, spouses who get a divorce don’t immediately get to split their properties 50-50. Instead, there are many factors to consider to determine who gets what percentage of the property, namely the type of divorce, what kind of property you own, and the state where you currently reside.
This article will focus mostly on providing answers to the question of whether or not you have to sell your West Palm Beach home when going through a divorce.
Which Party Gets the Marital Home?
While the term “marital home” refers to the home you share with your current family and spouse, it does not necessarily mean it was bought during the duration of your marriage. This residential property may also be the house you lived in prior to getting married. The matter of who ends up with ownership of this property post-divorce depends on two factors: your area of residency and if it is joint property.
Laws concerning dividing assets and property ownership vary per state, following either equitable or community distribution laws. The judge will divide your property fairly in an equitable distribution state, but this doesn’t always mean that you and your spouse will get an equal or even amount of assets and properties.
Meanwhile, community property state laws dictate that you and your spouse will split assets and properties in half, with both parties entitled to 50% of the equity of the property.
Aside from the date of when the marital house was acquired, how it was acquired also affects asset and property division among ex-spouses. Generally, a property that was inherited or gifted to you or was acquired prior to getting married is tagged as separate property and can’t be awarded to your spouse. During a divorce, individual parties get to keep their own separate properties.
Can I Keep the Home Even if It Is the Other Person’s Separate Property?
As long as the property in question qualifies as a community or marital property and not one spouse’s separate property, then a judge can give the marital home to one spouse. But before a court gets to decide who gets the house, they have to consider several factors, namely:
- Age, physical health, and mental health of each party;
- Contribution of each spouse to the marital home;
- Financial circumstances and state of employment of each spouse;
- Which spouse won custody of their minor children;
- The current market value of the home; and
- Either spouse’s marital misconduct.
If you let the court solely decide who gets to keep the marital home, more often than not, expect it to be given to the party with custody of minor children. This often happens because the court usually considers a house instrumental in helping provide children with mental and emotional stability, especially during a divorce.
However, if both parties are not financially capable of keeping the marital home, the court might devise an alternative.
How Is Equity Divided in a Marital Home?
The marital home is typically considered the biggest asset in divorces, especially for couples raising minor children. Most of the time, once the court determines this property as someone’s separate property, the property will automatically be given to the person who has ownership of it.
However, it becomes more complex if the marital property was purchased during the marriage and is now considered a marital asset. Often, the court can divide a marital home between spouses through:
- Distributive shares: When a judge decides to award a marital home through distributive shares, both spouses have rights to the value of the property.
- Deferred distribution: With this option, the equity of the marital home is distributed on a future date, thus “deferred distribution.” For instance, the judge can award you the marital home and allow you and your children to live in it until your youngest child turns 18. By this time, you’re expected to sell the house.
You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
Going through a divorce is stressful, and not knowing asset and property division will only amplify the stress. If you’re planning to file for a divorce, use this article as your reference.
Along with the West Palm Beach home divorce lawyer you’ll hire, the information presented here will help you understand how asset and property division in divorce works.