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What happens to the family home during a divorce?

| Jan 15, 2020 | Divorce |

There is no shortage of challenging issues to tackle when a couple decides to get a divorce. Deciding the future of child custody and support, alimony and how to divide property are some of the most common and potentially divisive.

In Massachusetts, all marital assets and debt are divided equitably by a court, but that doesn’t mean it will be an equal split. Distributing property can also be complicated for assets that can’t be physically divided, such as a family home.

Options for resolving home and mortgage disputes

Several choices exist for couples to amicably resolve the future of the family home, including:

One spouse buys out the other: If one spouse wants to keep the family home and other doesn’t, the best option is for the occupying spouse to refinance the home in their name. To do so, they must qualify for a mortgage based on their own income. They may also have to pay their former partner a share of the home’s equity.

Continue to co-own the house and set a later sale date: Divorcing couples choose to do this for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Young children are still at home
  • Tax considerations
  • The occupying ex-spouse doesn’t qualify for a mortgage
  • The housing market is weak for sellers
  • The property is too valuable to sell

Sell your home: For many, this is the last resort, but others find it’s the only option that works. A house sale ensures both ex-spouses will receive their fair share of the home’s equity.

Be aware of the risk to your credit over shared accounts

Spouses who do not continue to live in the family home must be mindful of the potential damage to their credit if their name remains on the mortgage. If your former spouse misses payments, loses their job, becomes disabled or dies, you can be held responsible for the balance even if your name was removed from the title for the property.

An experienced family law attorney here in Massachusetts can guide you through the complicated process and help you determine which option is best for you and your family. Your attorney will protect your interests and work for a solution that helps you move forward to the next chapter of your life.