Dividing marital property can be one of the more difficult elements of divorce. Particularly, it is common for individuals facing a divorce to wonder if it is possible to remain living in the family home, even after property division.
The short answer is yes – as long as the other spouse does not dispute it, an individual can keep the house. However, there are several factors that individuals must evaluate first.
Consider the financial aspect over the emotional connection
The family home is not only a financial investment but a sentimental place. Spouses invest money, energy and time to make a house into a home. It is only natural for individuals to want to stay in this space.
However, it is critical to be realistic. Keeping the home after a divorce can be expensive for one individual on one income. And while keeping the home often involves an emotional attachment, individuals must be careful to avoid a stressful financial situation after the divorce.
Determining what to do with the house in a divorce is not a decision that should be taken lightly. And you must carefully consider the financial circumstances before deciding to keep ownership of the house.
What must spouses do to keep the house?
If one spouse wishes to keep the home, they must ensure they can afford it. This requires individuals to:
- Analyze their personal finances;
- Determine their post-divorce finances;
- Calculate the value of the home equity; and
- Estimate taxes, upkeep and other future home expenses.
Usually, if one spouse wishes to stay in the home, they will have to buy out the other spouse. This means they must:
- Calculate how they would divide the value of the home according to North Carolina’s equitable distribution laws; and
- Pay their spouse their share of the home equity determined in the property division process. Often, they can pay this share in installments.
This can be a complex calculation, and everyone’s situation is different. That is why it is generally helpful for spouses to consult an experienced family law attorney to understand their options in the property division process.