Going through a divorce is challenging, unsettling and even frightening. Having to divide property only adds to the stress. A family law question that most divorcing couples ask is who gets the house? It is often the largest asset that a couple has and can easily become a point of serious contention during divorce proceedings.
While some states recognize the idea of community property, in which both spouses own all property jointly and split it down the middle in a divorce, Massachusetts does not. Instead, the Commonwealth is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that asset distribution must be fair but not necessarily equal.
Sometimes the parties can reach an agreement on their own about who keeps the home. If they cannot, then a judge or arbitrator will decide for them. Although each divorce is different, typically one of two things happens when it comes to splitting up the marital home:
- If neither spouse wants to remain in the house, then the couple sells the home and splits the net proceeds.
- If one party wants to remain in the house, then that party refinances the mortgage and uses equity from the home to buy out the other spouse.
If the couple has children, then they might agree that the custodial parent will remain in the home until the children reach the age of majority or other milestone. At that time, the custodial parent sells the house and the parties split the proceeds or the custodial parent keeps the home and buys out the other party.
Navigating a divorce requires the services of a dedicated, experienced lawyer, someone who will protect your rights and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. If you are contemplating divorce, please call our office and speak with a family law attorney about your rights and your options.