Dividing the Family Home During Divorce

During your dissolution of marriage proceedings, you have a couple options for dividing your home if it has equity, such as:

  • Selling the home and splitting the proceeds
  • One party keeping the home and paying the other spouse a fair amount

Dividing the marital home during divorce negotiations is difficult for many reasons.

First, you cannot simply draw a line down the middle and give each spouse one side of the property. Instead you are splitting the equity in your home, meaning you have to determine the equity and decide how to make a fair allocation.

Second, a home is often the most valuable asset a couple owns. Yet, its value can be subject to the vagaries of the Minnesota real estate market. For example, sale of a house may be more sluggish in the wintertime, when lawns are brown and barren and buyers are less willing to venture out in the snow and cold. Also, buyers who know you are getting a divorce may view you as a motivated seller and offer you less than your home is worth. So, if possible, consider waiting to sell until you can get the best price possible.

Typically, both you and your spouse have a deep emotional investment in the family home. Whereas a car or a TV is merely an object, the home may carry memories of a child’s first steps, holiday dinners and celebrations of significant life events. Objective advocates can help you make practical decisions.

Consider these matters before making a final decision about the division of your real estate:

  • Under Minnesota law, part of the home may be non-marital property. If you bought your home before marriage, you may be entitled to your down payment, mortgage payments and equity acquired before marriage. Mortgage payments and equity acquired from the date of marriage are likely considered marital property.
  • Your divorce decree does not extend to third parties. You and your spouse may have agreed that you are no longer responsible for the mortgage, taxes and insurance on your home, but the bank, the IRS and the insurer may still go after you if your spouse fails to pay.
  • A real property deed issued before your divorce is finalized is ineffective. Even if you deed property before your divorce is finalized, it is still subject to Minnesota divorce laws regarding the division of assets.

Speak to a St. Paul divorce lawyer who can advise you on your best options for dividing your home.

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