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Which spouse keeps the house in divorce?

Determining how to approach property division in divorce is rarely simple, especially when it comes to deciding which spouse (if either) keeps a marital home in the split. Homes count as marital property just as a savings account or any other asset that a couple might acquire while married, but it is not always easy to split the value of a home between the spouses, particularly when the family home is the largest single asset that a couple has.

There are no clearly defined rules about which spouse keeps a home in divorce, but there are some guidelines you can use to assess whether you or your spouse is most likely to keep the home.

First, if a couple has children, courts tend to favor the parent who retains primary child custody when it comes to keeping a home. If it is possible for the primary custody parent to keep the home and keep up with the mortgage and maintenance of the house, courts usually award a home to that parent for the sake of the children, to ensure that they have a stable environment.

In the absence of children, it is up to spouses to decide between themselves which of them can justify keeping the home. Alternatively, they may simply choose to sell it and split the proceeds. Often, a home is the single greatest asset that either person owns, and it is also wrapped up in a lot of sentimentality. This can make it difficult to reach objective decisions. If you face trouble resolving whether you or your spouse will keep the home, consider how much it actually costs to keep it, as well as the amount you could potentially receive by selling it.

Typically, if a couple only has a home and a few other assets to bargain with, one spouse may agree to pay the other in installments to create a more balanced property division. Each divorce comes with its own specifics, and the details matter. Make sure that you clearly understand what the law has to say about your circumstances as you build a divorce strategy that protects your needs and rights as you move on to a new season of life.

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  1. Charles W. Dobbins, Jr.

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