The question our Manchester divorce attorney gets asked most often is, “Who keeps the house?” Since the home is arguably the largest single asset in a divorce, it’s imperative to know how the court comes to a decision.
If children are involved, the house typically goes to the spouse who is awarded primary custody. Although this is not considered a rule, the belief behind this approach is to provide continuity and stability in the children’s lives. However, decisions regarding children are dictated by what the court considers to be “in their best interest.” So, if remaining in the old home isn’t in the child’s best interest, then the primary custodian won’t receive the house.
If children are not involved, then the court will access each party’s ability to continue making the mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and other upkeep expenses. What you can afford with two incomes is tremendously different from what you can afford on your own. While debt is a concerning factor in making the appropriate division, the court doesn’t want to award a home to a party who can’t consistently meet the payments.
Most people are under the impression that whoever doesn’t get the house will no longer be liable for mortgage payments. However, this is not true since the courts don’t possess the power to change liability on a debt. If both parties have a shared debt, such as a house, nothing can be done to grant one party sole liability. Often, spouses will attempt to refinance a joint liability, but both parties must determine that with each other.
To learn more about divorce options or if you would like to begin the process, please contact Sekella Law, PLLC and schedule a free consultation.