Common Questions about Divorce and the Marital Home

Divorce is a challenging and emotional process, and one of the most significant concerns for couples going through it is what will happen to their marital home. Questions about who will live in the house, who will pay the mortgage, and where the kids will reside can be overwhelming. Additionally, issues surrounding reimbursements for home-related expenses and division of property add to the complexity. In this article, we will explore common questions and provide valuable information to help you navigate the intricacies of your marital home during divorce.

Common Questions About the Marital Home During Divorce

When facing a divorce, many individuals seek advice regarding their family home right from the start. Here are some of the most common questions divorcing couples often ask:

  1. Who Will Keep the House?
  2. Should One Spouse Buy the Other Out?
  3. Am I More Likely to Get Custody of the Kids If I Keep the House?
  4. Will We Have to Sell the House?
  5. If We Sold the House, How Would the Proceeds Be Divided?
  6. What If the Home Was Owned by My Spouse Prior to Marriage, and I Was Later Placed on the Title?
  7. If I’m Not on the Title, Do I Have an Equity Interest?
  8. If We Can’t Agree on Division, Will the Court Make Us Sell?
  9. Can We Keep the House Until the Kids Turn 18 and Then Sell It?
  10. What If I Used My Inheritance to Pay Down the Mortgage or Make Improvements to the Home?

Who Gets the House in Divorce? Understanding Property Division

The outcome of these questions depends on the state’s laws where you reside, as each state has different rules for property division during divorce.

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Equitable Distribution States

If you live in an equitable distribution state, marital property is divided in an equitable manner. This means that if your name is on the property title, you are considered its owner. However, even if your name is not on the title, you have a legal right to claim an equitable portion of that property when divorcing. This ensures a fair distribution of assets based on various factors, such as financial contributions, length of the marriage, and future earning potential.

Community Property States

In a community property state, property acquired by either spouse during the marriage and before separation is considered joint property, with some exceptions. In simple terms, if you purchased your home during the marriage using joint savings or one spouse’s earnings, each spouse is entitled to 50% of the equity in the home upon divorce.

Issues and Exceptions

Real-life divorce cases are rarely straightforward. Various issues can complicate property division. For instance, if you used separate property funds (money acquired before marriage) to make a down payment on the marital home, you may be entitled to reimbursement for that amount. Similarly, if one spouse owned the property before marriage and never added their partner’s name to the title, determining ownership can be challenging.

To navigate these complexities, it’s beneficial to work with a divorce mediator or hire a divorce attorney who can provide guidance and ensure a fair resolution for both parties.


Divorcing couples often face a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to their marital home. Questions about ownership, division of assets, and reimbursements can be overwhelming. Understanding your state’s laws regarding property division is crucial in determining the best course of action. Seeking professional advice and mediation can help ensure a fair settlement and a smoother transition into post-divorce life.

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1. Can I keep the house and buy out my spouse during a divorce? Yes, buying out your spouse’s share of the home is a common solution in divorce cases. However, it’s essential to consider financial implications and seek legal advice.

2. Will the court decide who gets the house if we can’t agree on division? In some cases, if couples can’t agree on property division, the court may step in and make a decision based on state laws and the individual circumstances of the case.

3. What if I made improvements to the house using my own funds? If you made significant improvements using separate funds, you may be entitled to reimbursement for the value added to the home during the marriage.

4. Can we wait until our children turn 18 to sell the house? It’s possible to delay selling the house until the children reach adulthood, but this decision should be made in the best interest of all parties involved.

5. Should I hire a divorce attorney to handle property division? Hiring a divorce attorney can provide legal expertise and ensure that your rights are protected during the property division process.

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