There may come a time in your marriage where, while you love the house you have been raising your family in, you and your spouse may no longer love each other, and divorce is on the horizon. With that comes the difficult decision of what to do with the family home you have built together.
Property division in New York
Before discussing some options for dealing with the family home in a divorce, it is important to understand property division in New York. New York is an “equitable distribution” state for property division purposes in a divorce. This means that all marital property, including the family home if purchased while married or paid for using marital funds, will be divided based on what is fair. The result in an equitable distribution may aim to be a 50/50 split, but sometimes fairness dictates a less even result.
Keeping the family home
If the family home is part of the marital estate, you will have to decide what to do with it. Some couples choose to keep the family home together. Specifically, they may decide that one of them will stay in the home with the children and once the children are grown, the spouses will sell the home and divide the equity from the sale. Keeping the family home is also an option for couples who want to try “nesting” as a form of child custody by taking turns living in the family home with the children and living in a separate apartment when it is not their parenting time. Spouses choosing to keep the home will have to make sure they agree on and can afford all the costs that come with homeownership.
Selling the family home
Sometimes neither spouse can afford homeownership on their own, or the home may simply be a place of bad memories that they want to walk away from. In this case it may make more sense to sell the family home and divide the proceeds. If this option is selected, the spouses will have to agree on the value of the home and set a sales price. Valuation experts can be consulted to make these decisions easier. Spouses will also have to agree on who will care for the home until the sale is complete, especially if the sales process is moving slowly.
Ultimately, you and your spouse have options regarding the division of the family home. Whether you reach an out-of-court agreement or whether your divorce is litigated, chances are the family home will be one of the main concerns in the property division process.