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Who gets the house in a divorce?

One of the biggest assets most couples divide in a divorce is the family home. There are several ways you can handle this asset. It is important that you consider all options and make the choice that is most appropriate for your situation. What works for one family may not work for yours. 

In general, you have three options on what to do with your home in a divorce. You can sell it, buy out your spouse or continue to jointly own the home. It is important to understand that your mortgage lender does not care about your divorce. Until you make a formal change in the mortgage, you and your spouse remain responsible for the loan. Keep that in mind as you consider your options. 

Sell the house

Selling your home is the cleanest option because you get rid of the asset and both of you get out of the legal obligation under the loan.

However, selling is not always easy. It can take time, which will delay the finalizing of your divorce. It also requires that you both find new homes in which to live. This can strain finances. 

Buy out your spouse

If you want to stay in the home, you can buy out your spouse by paying him or her half the value of the home. You also would have to refinance the mortgage to remove his or her name. If you have adequate credit and your finances allow for it, this option will keep the divorce process moving forward. 

Keep the house

If you decide to keep the home and you both remain on the mortgage, you will need to cooperate. You might need an agreement as part of your divorce settlement about use, maintenance and other factors. 

Some families may use the home as a central base where the kids live, and the parents are the ones who move in and out. This is not an ideal situation, but it might provide stability for the kids while eliminating the financial impact of trying to revise the mortgage.