People in the Los Angeles area probably recognize that home prices in Southern California are steep.
While this can pose a real hardship to those who are just getting started out and have to come up with money for a house, for those who have been able to maintain home ownership for quite some time, the house can be a valuable investment. In fact, many couples in California have a lot, if not most, of their net worth wrapped up in their homes.
It is no wonder, then, that couples who are going through a divorce or legal separation get in to oftentimes contentious arguments about who will be the one to keep the marital residence. At times, it really is best for a person to fight hard for ownership over the house during the property division process, even if that means compromising on other matters.
However, one should not see keeping the house as an absolute and universal goal. At times, keeping the house is in fact a bad idea. For instance, maintaining a home costs a lot of money, even if the mortgage is paid off or the payment is reasonable.
After a split, a person wanting to keep the marital residence should be certain that he can pay for the house, and all associated costs, on a single income, without having to give up other necessities. If the house is not affordable, then he should not strain to keep it.
On a related point, although housing is generally a good long-term investment in California, like anything else, the market will fluctuate from time to time. A person who plans to keep the house in the hopes of cashing out in a few years should be certain that plan won't backfire because of a downturn in the housing market.
There are no hard and fast rules about whether one should try to keep the marital residence, and this question is generally a good one to go over with an experienced attorney.