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3 concerns about a primary residence that can complicate divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Division Of Assets

Divorcing couples in California have a lot of issues to address before their unions can be formally dissolved. If they have minor children, they must negotiate custody arrangements. If one spouse stayed home to take care of the family, there could be support issues as well.

Couples also need to divide their marital property and shared debts. The home where people live together during their marriage might be the asset that matters the most when they later decide to divorce. Couples often find themselves arguing over specific issues – possibly including the following – related to the home where they’ve lived together.

Setting the property’s value

All too often, spouses refer to the purchase price for the property when deciding what the home is worth during their divorce proceedings. Unless they acquired the home in the last few months, the chances are quite good that the property’s value has shifted dramatically since its initial acquisition. People may need to work with an appraiser or a real estate agent to determine the current fair market value of the property if they cannot agree on a reasonable value for the home.

Deciding short-term possession

People sometimes hear stories that claim that a spouse who moves out of the home loses their right to the property in their divorce proceedings. Sometimes, that particular misconception might lead to both spouses refusing to move out until they attend mediation or have a hearing in front of a California family law judge. It can be very difficult for spouses to agree on who should maintain short-term possession of the home during the divorce, especially if both would prefer to keep the home after the divorce.

Dividing the home’s value

Whether the spouses agree to sell the home or have one person stay there after the divorce, the other should receive an appropriate share of the accrued equity in the home. The community property rules in California theoretically give someone an interest in roughly half of the equity accrued during the marriage, but that can be hard to obtain. Not every couple has other assets that are worth an equivalent value when compared with the equity in the home where they live. Although refinancing can sometimes be a solution, one spouse may not be able to qualify for a mortgage if they must withdraw a substantial amount of equity to compensate their spouse.

Individuals who are familiar with California’s community property statutes and focused on their long-term financial stability after the divorce may have an easier time handling potentially complicated property division matters. To that end, seeking legal guidance proactively can be beneficial when so much is at stake.