In many marriages, the family home is the most valuable asset.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex are cooperating with each other, then you can choose to do almost anything you want with the house when you get divorced. For couples who are not cooperating, be forewarned that a judge in California does not have time to help you negotiate the future of the house. The judge will usually order the house be sold, the proceeds divided and tell you to go your separate ways, however, for many couples, that may not be the outcome that meets their needs.
Options for the House: Co-ownership
A couple may want to continue to co-own the house post-divorce for a variety of reasons. Some couples want to continue to co-own the house because they have children in high school and do not want to uproot the children until after their graduate. It requires a lot of cooperation and many details must be worked out, but a couple can reach an agreement to co-own the house after the divorce.
Options for the House: One Spouse Keeps the House
In same divorces, one spouse/partner may have an emotional attachment to the home. That spouse/partner can offer to ‘buy’ the house from the other spouse/partner, either though a cash-out refinance or by awarding other assets to the other spouse that offset the equity in the house.
Options for the House: Turn it into a Rental
Other couples agree to delay the sale and set up the house as a long-term or short-term rental and share the rental income. If the couple has lived in that house long enough in California, they may have a very low monthly payment compared to purchasing a home today in California due to the rise in home values. By renting the house, the couple going through the divorce may create an income from the house. They may also be wary of trying to sell the house right now during a pandemic and can agree to analyze the housing market after the pandemic ends and then revisit the discussion of selling the house.
Options for the House: Nesting
In a nesting parenting plan, the parents continue to co-own the house and the children continue to live in the house and only the parents move in and out, often on a weekly schedule. It is like baby birds in a nest: Dad bird flies in and takes care of the children for a while, then he flies out and then Mom bird flies in to takes care of the children. The children’s live are less disrupted and that is why some couples choose this option.
As long as you are cooperating, the choice about the future of house can be whatever you want it to be. Any plan that fits the family’s needs financially, emotionally, and provides for the most stability for the children is possible.
The Collaborative Divorce process helps in creating these plans for families. You have a professional team to help you analyze all the different house options from a financial, legal, and emotional standpoint. Anything is in play for your divorce and for the house. The team of professionals can help you develop options that will work for both of you. The team helps to focus on what you want for your family in the future. The Collaborative Divorce team can inform you, support you, and help you and your spouse make the best decisions for the family.