Clients often have many questions about the parties’ real property acquired during the marriage, known formally as the “marital home”. This article will provide some insight as to what to expect:

Who keeps the house?

The spouse who maintains ownership of the house is determined by who can afford to do so. The following scenarios are the most common:

  • If neither party is able to afford the home solely, it is sold to a third party. Any gains or losses are divided between the parties.
  • If one party is able to afford the home solely, they buyout the other party’s interest in the home, and when the buyout is successfully completed, the relocating spouse waives their interest in the property forever.

How is the buyout determined?

Unless a spouse agrees to waive a buyout of their interest in the marital home, the spouse who wants to keep the house must buy out their interests in the property. The marital home is appraised, then attorneys calculate the buyout amount based upon the home’s value, equity (or lack thereof), and the financial contributions of each party.

If one party is keeping the house, what happens to the marital mortgage?

The spouse who is relocating will need their name removed from the loans associated with the property to allow them to obtain a loan for their new home. This means that the spouse who is to maintain ownership must be able to refinance or assume the loan into their sole name.

If I have not relocated from the marital home yet, will I have time to find a new place to live?

By communicating to your attorney that you need to find a new home, terms may be included in your settlement agreement that allow you the time you need to do that.
For example, many parties continue residing in the marital home after separating, and often specify in their settlement agreement that the party who will be keeping the home has 90 days to complete the refinance, and the relocating spouse has 30 days after the refinance is successfully completed to relocate from the marital residence.
Arrangements such as this protect both parties; the spouse who is to refinance has insurance that their spouse must relocate in a certain amount of time and the relocating spouse has insurance that their name will be removed from the mortgage.

What if there are special circumstances?

When the disposition of the marital home is being discussed, all parties involved should clearly communicate their needs to ensure that they are met, as reasonably as possible. The great thing about Property Settlement Agreements, which is the formal document which details things like the disposition of the marital home, is that it can be customized according to your unique needs and special circumstances. The more unique your needs, the more important it is to hire an experienced attorney, such as Michelle Hopkins.

How can The Hopkins Law Firm help me?

The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm can help you ensure that your interests are protected with a fair buyout and by working to take care of your unique needs. They are ready to help you and can be contacted at 571-248-2210 or info@mhopkinslaw.com.


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