For many married couples, divorce can be a tricky process. For one, there’s the constant discussion over the custody of the children, as well as child support.
Equally complicated is the issue of dividing assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. This is especially when issue when the divorcing couple is discussing how to divide the family home.
The Property Division Process During Divorce Proceedings
As a rule, only community property and debt are divided in a divorce. These are the property and debt you and your spouse have at the time of divorce. Other properties and debt are considered separate, that is, any property and debt proven to be owned by only one spouse.
Property divorce law states that community property and debt should be divided in a way that is “just and right.” However, this doesn’t always mean 50/50.
The court will look at the following factors to determine the distribution:
- The income and separate property of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- The custody of the children
- The effort of a spouse in the household
Sometimes the couple will settle on a distribution on their own, which the judge usually approves.
What Happens To A Property During Divorce Proceedings
Distribution of a property is straightforward when it is bought by one spouse; this means that the court usually gives the property to the owner or the purchaser of the house.
Sometimes the court will give exclusive occupancy rights to one spouse. This means that only one spouse has the right to live in the house. These rights are usually given to the parent with custody of the children. In this case, the court may delay the sale of the property until the child or children graduate.
Other times, the court may order to sell the house after the divorce agreement. When it does, the court will consider the value of the home, mortgages, and other times of housing options.
Reaching A Property Agreement With Your Soon-To-Be Ex-Spouse
The court will not understand your family circumstances as well as you and your spouse. To control how to split your assets and debts, work together with your spouse and do the following:
1. List Your Assets
Create a list of assets and determine which of them are separate and community. Indicate which assets you’d like to keep and which ones to give to your spouse. After that, compare notes then resolve conflicts.
Be transparent as possible with your properties and debt. Failure to disclose a property or debt would give your spouse the reason to reexamine the property division. You might also incur penalty if the court decides that you intentionally failed to disclose information about the asset.
2. Determine The Value Of Each Property
Usually, the courts accept the fair market value (FMV) of each asset, which means that you’ll receive the value of the property based on how much it is if you sell it on the open market today.
After agreeing on which properties to distribute, decide with your spouse the value of each item. You’ll find various resources to determine the value. Expert, independent appraisers are also around to decide the valuation.
3. Draft A Settlement Agreement
Once you’ve agreed on which properties and debt to distribute, as well as your value, have a lawyer draft a settlement agreement. It should contain each asset and debt, who will own it, and the value.
In most cases, the judge will accept the agreement. However, he might still examine the document to ensure that there is equitable distribution of property.
4. Maybe Decide To Sell A Property
Sometimes you and your spouse won’t agree on what to do on a certain property. In this case, you may consider selling it instead and dividing the profits. In most cases, the couple sells the marital home, subtracts the mortgage debt, then splits the profits. That way, you both have a share without further messy disagreements.
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