What Will Your Divorce Mean For Your Marital Home?
The division of marital property (property acquired during the marriage that is not separate property) can be a major hurdle in the divorce process. Examples of marital property include retirement funds, automobiles, furniture, and most notably, the marital home. The marital home is often a point of special contention. Parties fight over the marital home because they attach sentimental value to it, because they want to maintain stability for their children, and/or because of other financial considerations. For example, a party may want to hold on to the home because its current value is not necessarily indicative of its future value (assuming, as is often the case today, a bad housing market).
In the unlikely situation that your contested divorce goes all the way to an equitable distribution trial, Virginia Code Section 20-107.3 requires that the court consider a variety of factors before dividing your assets or making a monetary award. Ultimately, Virginia Code Section 20-107.3 allows the court to transfer property to one of the parties, permit either party to buy out the interest of the other, or order the sale of the property. Assuming no agreement is reached, a court will likely opt to order the sale of your home because it is the cleanest, most equitable option. In that situation, the Court will specify how the remaining equity and costs from the sale will be split between the parties.
If, however, you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse before your case reaches an equitable distribution trial, the options are more abundant. If one spouse wants to keep the home and the other does not, you should explore your options as to refinancing the mortgage in only one of your names. If the lender allows for a refinancing, you may then work out a way to accommodate for your spouse’s share of the equity in the home that accumulated during the marriage. This is usually done through an agreed upon monetary “buy out” or some other compensatory arrangement. For example, one spouse may compensate the other by agreeing to forego their share of the other spouse’s retirement account.
No matter what, you should find out your options as early as possible. You should get an appraisal of your home to determine its value and how much equity exists. If you want to keep the home, you should find out whether your income is high enough to refinance the home in your name. You should also brainstorm how you would be able to compensate your spouse for his or her share.
If you have questions about what you should do with your marital home, it is best to speak with an experienced attorney right away. Our divorce lawyers have years of experience dealing with the division of marital property in divorce cases. If you are facing a divorce in Northern Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.