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Who keeps the family home in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | Divorce

A family home shelters a couple’s journey through the years. As a silent refuge witnessing how the relationship began and thrived, it makes sense how it remains a pivotal element during divorce.

In assessing who gets to keep it, soon-to-be ex-couples must determine if it qualifies as a community or separate property. California law maintains that community property is anything owned or acquired during the marriage. Conversely, separate property is anything possessed or received before the marriage.

If both parties bought the family home together or the title reflects their names, they have equal interest in keeping it. In some cases, they also share a stake if community funds pay the mortgage. Sometimes, even if the title lists only one name, the other party may still have an interest if they contributed to mortgage payments.

Thus, the option applicable to dividing a family home depends on the nuances of family situations.

There are options for dividing the house

Whether both parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement on their own or require the court’s intervention, the following are the most common courses of action:

  • Selling the house: If neither party wants the house due to a lack of financial capacity to maintain it, they can put it up for sale and split the proceeds.
  • Co-owning the house: If both parties want to strategize on the timing of the housing market’s interest rates, they may share ownership and defer the sale at a later or more appropriate date.
  • Buying out the other for their share of the house: If one party has the economic means to have full ownership, they may pay off the other for 50% of their equity.

Each option has its pros and cons. For example, putting up the house for sale means working on resolving mortgage concerns, bracing for possible tax implications and uprooting the child from a familiar environment. On the other hand, it can also provide a fresh start after an emotionally draining divorce.

If the case moves to court proceedings, the judge may also exercise broad discretion on weighing relevant factors, especially regarding the child’s best interests, before finalizing a decision.

There is no place like home

Letting go of a family home with special memories demands thorough financial and emotional consideration. After all, it is not easy to adjust to new living conditions. However, it is also true when they say that any house can become a home with the right support system. Thus, it will be wise if parties divide the property with legal representation that can process it through to the end and guide them in building their post-divorce lives.