Many married couples in California purchase a home, envisioning living their life there together forever. However, sometimes plans like that don't work out, and a couple ends up seeking a divorce. When this happens, they will have to divide their assets. This includes the family home. In fact, when it comes to property division, the family home may be one of a couple's largest assets. Therefore, couples will want to think carefully about what to do with the family home in a divorce.
Some couples decide that they will continue to own the home jointly. They may do this if they plan to pass the family home on to their children in the future. Of course, doing this involves a certain amount of cooperation and communication between the spouses, even after the divorce is final.
Some couples choose to put the family home up for sale and split the proceeds. Of course, it is possible that the home has not increased in value since it was purchased, meaning the parties would get nothing from the sale. And, even if the house has appreciated in value, there are still fees that come with selling a home. Also, if a couple has children, they will need to decide whether it is in the child's best interest to sell the home the child has been growing up in.
Finally, some couples decide to transfer the title to the home to one spouse only. This can be done through a quitclaim deed or an inter-spousal transfer deed. Of course, this means that the spouse keeping the home will have to pay for the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and upkeep on the home, which can be expensive. Also, creditors are not bound by divorce decrees. If the home is not refinanced in one spouse's name only, they may both remain responsible for mortgage payments even if one party agreed to take them on themselves in the property division process.
In the end, while divorce is an emotional time, couples should think with a clear head when it comes to deciding what to do with the family home. An attorney may be able to provide more information about a couple's options in such situations, which can help in the decision-making process.
Source: ukiahdailyjournal.com, "How's the Market? Divorce and real estate," Richard Selzer, Nov. 17, 2017