In a California divorce, who gets the house?
This is one of the biggest questions many people have about splitting up, but the answer isn’t as simple as you may hope.
California Divorce: Who Gets the House?
Your marital home – what the court calls your house when you’re divorcing – might be one of the toughest issues in your divorce. For some people, it’s right up there with child custody. In most cases, it’s the family’s most valuable asset, and everyone’s emotionally attached to it. When you have children, there’s even more to consider.
For the most part, who gets the house is up to you and your soon-to-be ex. However, there’s one exception: When the house is separate property.
What Happens When the House is Separate Property in a California Divorce?
If the house is separate property, which occurs when one party owned it prior to the marriage, the spouse who owns it is entitled to it. This can get pretty confusing, though, because if the house wasn’t paid off when the two parties married, or when one party contributed money to mortgage payments or pitched in for improvements during the marriage. In a situation like this, it’s best to check with your Stockton divorce lawyer to find out whether the courts will consider the house separate property or community property.
What Happens When the House is Community Property in a California Divorce?
If your home is community property, you have several options, including:
- A buyout
- Deferred sale
A Buyout During Divorce
You and your spouse may agree to a buyout. A buyout occurs when one spouse takes full ownership of the house – and takes on the mortgage payments, if there are any – while paying the other spouse his or her share. Typically, that means the buying spouse needs to refinance so that the other spouse isn’t on the new mortgage.
In some cases, the court might order that the selling spouse make the mortgage payments as a form of spousal support. If that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, talk to your divorce lawyer so she can give you guidance.
There are always tax implications when you’re dealing with a buyout of a home during divorce, which your lawyer will also talk to you about. In some cases, a buyout isn’t the best option.
Deferred Sale of the House in a California Divorce
Sometimes courts make orders that temporarily delay the sale of a home because it’s in the children’s best interests. (It’s technically called a deferred sale of home order.) If this happens in your case, both you and your ex will stay on the title of the home; you’ll own it jointly, but only the custodial parent gets exclusive use and possession of the home. These orders are fixed for a set period of time, and in making this big decision, the court will consider:
- How long the kids have lived in the home
- How old the kids are
- How close the home is to school, child care and other amenities the kids need or use
- Whether the home has been modified to accommodate the custodial parent’s or a child’s physical disability
- What kind of emotional impact moving would have on the kids
- How the location of the home helps the custodial parent maintain employment
- Whether each spouse can obtain suitable housing
- Tax consequences for each party
- Whether a delayed sale will have a negative financial impact on one parent
Selling a Home During Divorce
In a lot of cases, both spouses agree to sell the house and split the profits from the sale. This usually happens when neither spouse can financially handle owning the home on their own.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Who Gets the House in Your California Divorce?
Call us and schedule your consultation with a Stockton custody lawyer today – we may be able to help you. While you’re here, you can also explore our articles on:
Call us at (209) 989-4425 or get in touch with us online to talk to a lawyer who can help today. We’ll help you with every aspect of your divorce, from child custody and child support to alimony and property division.