How to Handle the House in a Divorce

Separating from a spouse is one of the most difficult things people do in life. If you are standing before your divorce papers, splitting the assets might look too complicated. If you have lived in the same house with your partner for years, here’s what you can do. Let’s take a look at a few ways to handle the house in a divorce.

Step one – know your options

Every divorce is a tough process, and dividing property is what makes it that. So, before you decide how to handle a house in a divorce, you should know your options. Depending on how you approach this process, you could end up finding the best solution from a financial point of view. Also, knowing your options will help both you and your partner get to an agreement in the most efficient way. Here are the most common options you can choose from during this process:

  • One of you can buy out the house. This option is often the best if one of the partners is more emotionally attached to the house. For example, when minor kids are involved in a divorce, the parent who gets custody of a child will most likely continue living on the property. Also, buying the partner out is a good solution when one of the partners is financially more stable than the other.
  • Changing the owner of the home but continuing to live there. If you and your partner agree to this solution, it will mean that no one will be selling the house. Instead, you will just sign the documents for one of you to become the new owner. In other words, one of you will continue living there, and the home becomes that person’s property.
  • Agreeing to settle and split the value of the property. Splitting assets is the most common solution people choose in a divorce. After selling a house, both of you will be looking for a new home, while the value of your house will be split in half.

Review your financial situation

If you are not sure which option you should choose, don’t worry. You are far from the only person who has to handle this problem. So, the best way to decide what you want to do is to review your financial situation and see which option will be the best for you in the future.

Here are some of the things you’ll have to consider:

  • Mortgage. If you did not buy the property in cash, you most likely have a joint mortgage with your spouse. If one of you keeps the house (you don’t agree to sell), that person will have to continue paying off the debt.
  • Future repairs and maintenance. Before you decide what to do with the house in a divorce, think about these. Will you have the money, willpower, or time to maintain the house, especially if it’s big?
  • Taxes. Last but not least – who will continue to pay yearly taxes for the property? Even if you decide to sell the property, you will still have to pay some of the tax on profit.

Keeping the house with two owners

The most common option in the divorce process is one person keeping the house. However, it’s not common for people to keep double ownership over the property. The reason you might want to choose this option is simple – keeping the house with two owners will help you lower the costs. Also, this is a better decision from an emotional perspective. If you have children, continuing to live in the same home will be an easier solution for them.

Splitting the money after selling the house

Splitting the money after selling the house is also a popular option. It’s not convenient for both parties, but it’s often the best way to make a “clean cut” after the divorce. The problem with this option is that you will have to work together and compromise. Selling any property is a time-consuming task. So, if you and your spouse decide to sell after the divorce, you will need to consult a professional. A real estate agent will tell you about your options and do most of the hard work for you.

Another thing you should consider is whether you want to sell before or during the divorce. If you opt for the first option, you will need to find a new place to live even before you’ve signed the divorce papers. However, selling the property during the divorce can make it harder and more emotional, so talk to your spouse about the best solution, especially if you have kids involved in the process.

One of the spouses bought a house after the divorce

In case you and your partner decide to divide all the assets, one of you will most likely buy out the other one. As mentioned, this option is common when one of the partners is more emotionally attached to the property.

If you are the one who has to move out of the house, it will, without a doubt, be a complicated process. Leaving all the memories behind and finding a new place to live can be hard on anyone. However, simplifying the moving process can make it a little bit easier. Keep in mind that downsizing can help – if you deal with clutter when preparing for the move and minimize the number of things you want to keep and move, your moving day will be way more efficient and less time-consuming.

How to agree upon splitting the assets during a divorce?

No matter which of the options you choose, you will have to agree with your partner. If you disagree and have a difficult time compromising, you have a few options. 

You can use mediation and hire a professional to speak in your name. They will help you negotiate a settlement agreement and find the best solution. Another option is to hire a divorce lawyer. When spouses have difficulty communicating or have large financial assets in the game, hiring a lawyer is the best option. This person can offer advice, protect your interests and suggest a few ways to approach the problem. 

Overall, if you want to handle a house in a divorce, the best thing you can do is to establish open communication and seek professional help if needed. Whether you need to sell a multi-family property or a one-story house, you will need assistance during this process.


If you are about to get a divorce or are already in this process, handling mutual property will be one of the issues. Handling a house in a divorce is everything but easy, so knowing your options is the best plan you can have.

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