Who Keeps the House in a Divorce?


One of the main issues in a divorce is property division. For those who don’t own any substantial assets, dividing property may be as simple as deciding who will keep the couch and who gets the fridge. But when spouses own a home together, who gets it in the divorce? 


There are two main options: One spouse keeps the home and buys out the community property interest of the other spouse, or selling the marital home and splitting the profits. 


The first option relies on the ability of the spouse to qualify without the other spouse and subsequently assume financial responsibility for the home. This option may not be possible, forcing the parties to choose the latter option.


What if the family home was purchased before marriage?

It gets even more complicated if there is a separate property interest, such as when the home was purchased by one spouse before marriage, but mortgage payments were made during the marriage; or when one spouse uses some of their separate property for the down payment. In those situations, the spouse may be entitled to reimbursements for their separate property contributions.


What if one party stays in the house before there’s a court order and the other party moves out?

In that situation, the party who continues paying the mortgage after separation with separate funds may be entitled to receive reimbursement in the form of Epstein credits. On the other hand, the party who moved out and does not have exclusive use of the marital home may be entitled to receive credit for payments in the form of Watts charges. It is important to note that neither Epstein credits nor Watts charges are automatic and must be requested. 


If you are dealing with a divorce involving a marital home or other community property, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help you determine your best options. Contact The Reape-Rickett Law Firm today at (888) 851-1611 to meet with an experienced attorney.

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