It isn't just a house; it's a home. Filled with memories of first steps, birthday parties and holiday celebrations, having to sell your marital home can be one of the toughest aspects of a divorce. In addition to the emotional considerations, your home may also be your highest valued asset and your largest debt.
During your divorce, some choices are to:
- Sell the marital home and divide the equity 50-50
- Keep the home and buy out your spouse for her or his fair portion
- Transfer your percentage of the home to your spouse in exchange for cash or other assets of equal value
Before agreeing that one of you should take ownership of the property, make sure financing is not a problem. For example, you may grant your spouse ownership and be released from all liability in your marital judgment. However, the bank is not a party to this contract but can nonetheless hold you financially accountable for the mortgage. Conversely, you may not be able to obtain a loan at reasonable terms based upon your sole income for the home you and your spouse originally financed together.
If you decide to sell the home, make sure the terms are clearly stated in writing before you begin the process. Factors that could otherwise become sticking points include:
- Justly allocating the mortgage, insurance, taxes and maintenance
- Determining which spouse should live in the home and under what terms
- Hiring a broker to assist with the sale
- Setting a realistic and appropriate asking price
- Deciding when to accept an offer
- Planning next steps in case the house doesn't sell
- Equitably dividing the equity once the home sells
How you divide the equity depends upon your specific circumstances. A home you bought together is likely 100 percent marital property. However, a home you owned before your marriage may be considered partly marital and partly non-marital property. An experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer can help you calculate the money you deserve from the home sale and advise you on your other rights and options.