During a Divorce: Should You Keep Your House or Sell It?

Solana Beach, CA – During your divorce proceedings, you and your future ex-spouse are torn: Does one of you keep the house you lived in, or do you sell it? While this decision largely depends on your own emotional and financial situation, there are some points to consider on either side.

Divorce & House

“A house or other communal property can be difficult to divide between the partners,” explains John Griffith, Carlsbad divorce lawyer. “Since California divorces also include an automatic temporary restraining order, this can be even more challenging.”

When divorces are filed in California, there is an accompanying summons that goes into effect immediately and basically forbids each spouse from selling real estate or other property of significant value. This can be overridden by a written agreement from both spouses, but it’s important to consult with a family law expert before dealing with any such property.

Questions to Ask If You Want to Sell Your House

While these are some questions to consider, there is no substitute for professional legal advice. The points below are meant to serve as a starting point for those who want to sell their homes during or after a divorce:

  • Is the home community, separate, or quasi-community property?
  • How will a real estate agent be chosen?
  • How will the selling price be determined?
  • Who will handle negotiations, possibly including lowering the listing price?
  • Will one or both spouses handle communication with the real estate agent and potential buyers?
  • Which spouse will be responsible for ensuring the house is ready for viewings? Does one spouse need to be home when the house is being shown?
  • Do both spouses need to formally accept offers and counter offers?
  • What will happen to the proceeds if/when the house is sold? Are there any legal fees that will be paid using the profits from the house?

Questions to Ask If You Want to Keep Your House

If you (or your future ex-spouse) are considering keeping the house, that likely means that one party will need to buy the other’s share. In California, this process is generally done by an agreement called a stipulation, as well as an accompanying court order. Here are some guiding questions to ponder:

  • Who will choose the appraiser to determine the price of the house?
  • How much it will take to be bought out by the other party?
  • Will the buyout be done using cash, or will other assets be considered in exchange (e.g., attorney fees, spousal support, etc.)?
  • Are both spouses on the house’s title? If so, will one party’s name be removed after the other buys the house?
  • If there is a mortgage involved and both spouses are on it, what (if any) duties will the bought-out spouse have afterward?
  • In the case of a mortgage, does the bank have any restrictions on modifications made? If so, how will those be addressed?

Final Points to Consider

Real estate can be a vexing and perplexing topic, even for seasoned veterans. A house entails so much more than just a mortgage; it also includes property tax, insurance, liens or other financial encumbrances, the possibility of foreclosure, capital gains taxes, and more. While it’s crucial to work with a family law firm during your divorce, you may also need the help of a tax specialist as well. With an expert team on your side, selling or keeping your house will be a smoother process overall.

To talk about your property situation during your divorce, schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable team at Griffith, Young, and Lass today. This experienced, professional team will guide you to a favorable outcome for your case. 

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