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What Happens to the Family Home in a California Divorce?

In many marriages, the most valuable asset couples have is the marital home, which is why determining what happens to it in a divorce can be one of the hardest decisions. Additionally, people are emotionally attached to their home, especially when children are involved.

Remember, California is a “community property” state, meaning that the marital property is equally owned by both spouses, unless one spouse acquired the asset before the marriage, as a gift, or as an inheritance. Even when one spouse owns a home before getting married, if the other spouse financially contributes to the mortgage, utilities, or any renovations/restorations, then the other spouse would also have an interest in the house.

The following are several ways a family home can be divided in a divorce:

  • Sell the home – The divorcing couple may agree to sell the family home and split the sale proceeds. If neither spouse cannot afford to own a home by themselves, this is considered the most feasible option.

  • Buy the other spouse out – If one spouse wants to take full ownership of the home, he/she can pay the other spouse for his/her share. The spouse who wishes to buy out the other spouse must consider all the costs associated with owning a home, including monthly mortgage payments, insurance, utilities, property taxes, maintenance, etc. Keep in mind, to remove the selling spouse from the mortgage, the buying spouse must refinance the house.

  • Deferred sale of the home – This is an option for divorcing couples with minor children. The court may issue a “deferred sale of home” order to temporarily delay the sale of the family home. If this order is issued, the couple continues to jointly own the home for a specific period of time. During this time, the custodial parent will have exclusive possession and use of the home. The main purpose of this order is to minimize the financial impact of divorce on the kids. The court will assess each parent’s income and ability to afford mortgage payments after the divorce.

If you are interested in filing for a divorce in Granite Bay, call Myers Law Firm at (916) 634-0067 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a low-cost 30-minute consultation! Serving clients in Roseville, El Dorado Hills, Folsom, and Citrus Heights.