There are a wide array of issues that divorcing couples must face such as support, custody, and dividing assets. Deciding what to do with the couple’s home may be the biggest and most difficult property division matter.

Ownership

Ownership is important for a spouse to have a say in this matter. Typically, both spouses own the property because they built and paid for the house together. In an equitable distribution state like Michigan, courts will rule on division based upon what is fair and not necessarily based upon an even split.

Couples can negotiate ownership of the house or how sale proceeds may be allocated. Couples can also address this, and other property division matters before marriage in their prenuptial agreement.

Valuation

The spouse who is buying or selling the house should know its price and have an appraisal completed. An appraisal is also important for estimating the home’s worth if spouses negotiate the division of sales proceeds or the allocation of other property to make up for one spouse keeping the home.

Is the home worth keeping?

Seeking to maintain stability for the children and their emotional well-being, memories and emotions are among the reasons to keep the house. But one person may be responsible for expenses that were previously covered by both spouses such as the mortgage, taxes, appliances, repairs, and upkeep.

Depending on a spouse’s situation, the house may be an unaffordable financial drain. Upkeep may be too much work for one person to do.

Sell and divide

If couples cannot agree on who will receive their home or neither spouse wants it, the couple can put it up for sale and divide its net value. This may simplify negotiations, especially if there is a fair valuation. But spouses will need to agree on matters such as an acceptable price, staging, a realtor and maintaining the home until its sale.

Courts can decide property division and other divorce issues when couples cannot agree. However, their rulings may impose an unwanted decision and take away the opportunity to reach an agreement that meets their needs. An attorney can represent a spouse’s interests in negotiations, mediations and legal proceedings and seek a fair and reasonable decree.