Although divorcing spouses must divide their marital property, one spouse can retain ownership of the home.
What happens if you and your spouse disagree about how to handle the house in your divorce? What if you both want to keep it?
As you might guess, disagreeing about what to do with the house can make the property division process more complicated. However, being informed of your options can relieve stress and tension during the division process.
First things first: Make sure it is feasible
Before beginning any discussion about how to divide the family home, it is critical that you analyze your finances to make sure you can afford to stay in the house, pay the mortgage and maintain it on your own.
This is an important step to help inform your stance during any property division conversation.
Try negotiating a solution
Even if the family home is a point of contention between you and your spouse, it is still often worth the effort to try and negotiate. Negotiation often requires more flexibility, but it allows you and your spouse to work out an agreement that works best for you.
For example, many spouses might consider several approaches, including:
- Compromising assets of equal value to keep the house; and
- Nesting for a period of time if you have children.
It might help to evaluate your expectations for the future if you are determined to keep the marital residence.
Mediating the dispute is a good next step
In addition to negotiation amongst yourselves, you should also consider taking the dispute to mediation. This helps keep your dispute out of court while still having the help of a neutral third party facilitate the discussion and the process.
If you still cannot agree, it might be up to the judge
If the dispute escalates or you and your spouse still cannot reach an agreement on who will keep the house, then the family court will decide who keeps the house. It is in these cases that judges will consider the factors of property division under North Carolina law, including but not limited to:
- Your income and your spouse’s income;
- The custody agreement between you and your spouse; and
- Each of your contributions to maintain or improve the house.
Your family home can be one of the most controversial issues in your divorce. You must be prepared to handle disagreements over the home effectively.