Abandonment of the Home, This Divorce Myth is BUSTED!By DADvocacy™ | August 21, 2015
Myth: If one person moves out of the marital home they have abandoned it and have no legal right to it, or any profits or any liabilities associated with it.
Fact: A home purchased during a marriage by the married couple is a marital home. Even if one person moves out. Even if both people move out. Even if it is upside down. It is owned by both people.
A marital home is an asset or a liability that has to be divided between a couple getting divorced no matter who is living there at the time of the divorce. If either person moves out of the home, as one person frequently does before a divorce settlement is final, they do not lose their legal right to the home’s value or cost.
There are two sides to that coin. If the house is worth less than the couple owes for it then both parties will owe money even if one person moves out. If the house is worth more than the couple owes for it then both parties will receive money when the house is sold even if one person has already moved out.
There are different ways courts or couples can manage dividing a marital home. The court can order any of the options just as a couple can agree to any of them. The home can be sold and the profits or liabilities remaining split between the couple. The parent who has primary timesharing with any minor children can remain in the home until the last child turns 18 or graduates high school to maintain stability and then the home can be sold and profits or liabilities divided. If this is done the ongoing expenses of the home are usually covered by the parent who stays or can be split and the final sale percentages adjusted to reflect how much each party invested in the home after the divorce. One person can buy the other out of their share of the home if they have the resources and want to stay. Or if there are more marital assets than just the home one person could keep the home while the other person receives other assets to even out the division.
Remember if you can reach an agreement then you have more choice in the matter, especially when it comes to a sale. And check out our post on what you must include in your divorce agreement if you choose to sell the marital home.
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