Home is where the heart is, but when hearts are broken, and a married couple decides to divorce, the decision of what to do with the family home can be one of the most contentious issues. This is because the family home may be one of a couple’s most valuable assets and it may have a lot of sentimental value as well.
It is important to understand what your options are when it comes to the family home and property division in a divorce.
One option is for one spouse to keep the home. To do so, that spouse must be able to buy out their ex’s share in the home or they must exchange the home for other assets in the property division process. Then they will want to refinance the home, so the mortgage is in their name only. Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that marital assets will be divided based on fairness, and this may not mean an even 50/50 split. Marital assets often include the family home.
Another option is for the spouses to agree to sell the family home. For example, both may feel the home has too many unpleasant memories or each spouse may decide that they are unable to afford to keep the home, given they would be paying the mortgage, upkeep, taxes and insurance on a single income. The proceeds made from the sale may then be split between the spouses.
A final option is for the spouses to keep the home together, even if only one of them is living in it. While this option may be unusual, it may work for some, especially if they have children that they want to remain in the home. If this option is chosen, each spouse needs to agree on how homeownership expenses and upkeep will be paid for. Sometimes couples choose to keep the home together temporarily, and agree that they will sell it later, for example, once their children are grown.
Determining what to do with the family home is a big decision for divorcing couples. It is not one that should be rushed into. Couples should take a step back, and evaluate what options are best for them before proceeding. Attorneys can explain what options are available to their clients, so their clients can make informed decisions.