Determining Who Gets to Keep the House In a Divorce
For many couples, a house is the most valuable asset they own, as well as the most nostalgic, with years of memories locked inside. As such, it is no surprise that one common point of contention during a divorce is who gets to keep the house. Like most questions that are raised during a divorce, the answer is “it depends.” Courts in Pennsylvania will examine a variety of factors, including the value that each spouse places on the house, in determining who gets to keep the house in a divorce. If you are currently going through a divorce or are planning on filing for a divorce and worried about whether you will get to keep the house, contact the divorce attorneys at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today to learn more about your options.
Pennsylvania is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that the court will look at a variety of factors in determining which spouse gets to keep the house in a divorce. These factors may include things like how long the marriage lasted and each spouse’s earning potential and ability to support himself or herself after the divorce. The court will also appraise the house to obtain a value on it and attempt to distribute the couple’s marital assets as equally as possible.
Selling the House
There are generally two options available for the marital home in a divorce. The first option is to sell the house and split the proceeds between the spouses. Each spouse can then do whatever he or she wishes with the proceeds, like buy a new house or lease a property. This is generally a good option if neither spouse feels any attachment to the house and doesn’t have any children. For example, a young couple who has only been married a short time may wish to look into this option, as they have not yet established roots in this house and can more easily move on with their lives either in a different home in that city or in a new city altogether.
Allowing One Party to Keep the House
The second option is to allow one spouse to keep the house and give the value of the house to the other spouse in the form of other marital assets. Usually, when children are involved, when the couple has lived there for a long time, or when the house has special sentimental value for one of the spouses (for example a family home that was passed down for generations), this may be the best option. It can be difficult to uproot children, take them away from the home and neighborhood that they’re used to living in, the neighborhood children they’re friends with, and the school they go to, and ask them to adjust to a new life in a new city with new people. Thus, it may be in the best interest of the children for one spouse to stay in the family home with the children and the other spouse to move out.
As you can see, there is no black and white answer to who will get to keep the marital house in a divorce. Many factors will be taken into consideration, and each couple’s case is unique. If you have any questions about the specifics of your divorce, including whether you will get to keep your marital house in your case, contact the divorce attorneys at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates at 610-565-6100 or visit us online.