When you decide to divorce, suddenly your life is full of uncertainty. You aren’t sure what your child custody arrangement will look like with your ex. You don’t know how exactly you and spouse will split your assets. You may not even be certain of where you will live once your divorce is final.
Maybe you want to keep your marital home after your divorce. You love its location and want to give your children some stability in this uncertain time. Yet, how can you keep the marital home as you divide assets with your spouse?
Understanding property division for Washington divorces
Washington is one of only nine community property states in the United States for divorce. In community property states, couples divide their marital assets equally, 50-50. So, if you bought your home during your marriage, you and your spouse will split its value in divorce. That means you will split paying off the mortgage offset by any additional equity your home has gained during your marriage. Even if you purchased the home before you married, you likely will have to split some of your home’s worth, especially if you paid the mortgage out of a joint account or your spouse helped pay for upgrades, maintenance and taxes.
To keep your home after divorce, you will have to negotiate that with your spouse. You may need to give your spouse other property they really want to keep (maybe a vacation property, the valuable art collection you have bought together or a boat you own).
You may need to refinance your mortgage so you can buy out your spouse from their ownership of the home. You may need to give your spouse more of your retirement savings or other investment assets to buy out their share of your home’s worth. Another option is that you and your spouse agree to sell your home at a later time, splitting the proceeds then.
Should you sell your home instead?
When you begin to understand what assets you’ll receive in the divorce, you may realize that it will be difficult to buy out your spouse from their share of its worth. You may realize you will have a difficult time paying your mortgage and maintenance costs on your own. In this situation, you may decide to sell your marital home and split those assets now.
You should work closely with your divorce attorney as you work through dividing property with your spouse. Your attorney can help you get a better idea of what your assets are and how to negotiate keeping your marital home or if it would be better to sell it and move forward.