When a person is starting the process of divorce, it’s not uncommon for them to wonder if they’ll be able to keep the home that they lived in with their spouse while married. Buying a home can be one of the most significant moments of a person’s life and it’s understandable why both parties in a Massachusetts divorce would want to keep their marital home.
Is a Home Marital Property?
One of the most important questions to answer is when a home was acquired. If it was bought during the marriage that’s now ending, it counts as marital property and will be included in divorce proceedings as such. In this case, all property—including the home—must be divided equitably. So, if a couple can agree on what’s fair for their situation, one can receive ownership of the home.
Divorcing couples who can’t agree on who keeps the home face a more difficult situation. In some cases, couples make fighting over ownership of their home a focus of their contested divorce. When couples can’t agree on who gets their former marital home, a court will have to decide who gets it. In some cases, a Massachusetts court can include a home that was bought by one party before marriage in divorce proceedings.
In some instances, a court might order one party to leave a home during divorce proceedings. This happens in divorces involving domestic abuse and restraining orders. A court might also order one person to leave a home if their presence is a danger to the other party or children. However, a temporary housing order is not indicative of who’ll receive ownership of a home.
How Courts Decide Who Gets a Home During a Divorce
There’s nothing that guarantees one party will receive ownership of a home over another during a Massachusetts divorce. However, a court will examine several factors that contribute to a final decision for homeownership.
These factors include the following:
- How long a couple was married
- When the home was bought
- How much each person was involved with the purchase and upkeep of the home
- The health of both parties
- The age of both parties
- The occupation and income of each person
- What benefits children from the marriage
Significant Factors for Deciding Home Ownership
The Equity of Each Spouse
The equity of a home is split evenly during a divorce. So, if one spouse wants complete ownership of the marital home, they might need to find a way to make a trade for the other spouse’s ownership of the home. For example, if two people have $800,000 of equity in a home, they’ll each have $400,000 of that equity during divorce proceedings. The spouse who wants possession of the home will need to provide $400,000 or property equal to that value to earn the other person’s stake in the home.
In some cases, a court will award ownership of a marital home to the person who has custody of children from the marriage. Additionally, a Massachusetts court could view homeownership as a part of child support. In a situation like this, one spouse doesn’t “lose” ownership of the house but rather has to wait until the home is sold before obtaining their share of its value.
Consider Your Situation Before Fighting for a Marital Home
During a divorce, the “battle” over a home is something that’s gained infamy. Someone needs to consider how their life will be after marriage before aggressively pursuing ownership of a home. There’s no such thing as winning or losing during the divorce process. Instead, a person should evaluate if they can afford the home and how long they’d plan on staying in the home after the divorce is over.
Contact Miller Law Group, P.C. today for help with your Massachusetts divorce. We’re standing by to answer your questions at (508) 502-7002.