We love our homes. They’re where we lay our head to rest each night, and often times, North Carolina homeowners have been living in their residences for much of their lives. For this reason, it can be frightening to think that you may have to find a new home as a part of your divorce.
Fortunately, in most divorce cases two spouses can peacefully negotiate what they’re going to do with their residence. Some couples will sell their home and divide the proceeds. Others will buy out the other spouse’s share of the net equity and keep living there. Then, when couples own two homes or have other assets of equal value to the home, they may divvy up their property in another way that allows one spouse to keep the home.
Then there is the question: can a judge can force you and your spouse to sell your house? The prevailing opinion is no, a judge cannot force you to sell. However, there is some conflicting case-law that suggests otherwise.
What if spouses can’t agree on who keeps the home?
Sometimes, the simplest way to solve a disagreement over the family home is to sell the property and divide the proceeds between the spouses.
However, if the spouses cannot agree on who will receive sole ownership of the home, a judge will have to decide on which spouse keeps the home. There can be a number of factors a judge might consider when making this decision:
- Is the home built on land that was in one spouse’s family and still with family nearby?
- Which spouse can best afford the home?
- Does one spouse have a greater need for the home based on the custodial schedule for their children?
- Did one spouse own the home prior to getting married and later transfer the home into the parties’ joint names during the marriage?
Though not the subject of this post, it is important to note that a judge does not have the authority to require the spouse who gets the house to refinance the mortgage into his or her sole name.
Reaching an out of court agreement is always best.
Because there’s a lot of risk going into judicial proceedings, and couples will never know what a judge will decide, it’s preferable to come to an out-of-court agreement. Avoiding legal battles will save couples an enormous amount of money, time, stress – and it also allows them to keep the decision-making process under their control.
The best North Carolina family law attorneys will approach every potential asset division disagreement with a diplomatic eye toward settlement – while also advocating to protect your rights and achieve the fairest possible result. This way, spouses can benefit from the quickest and most cost-effective divorce possible given their situations.
This article is not intended to give, and should not be relied upon for, legal advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. No action should be taken in reliance upon the information contained in this article without obtaining the advice of an attorney.