Premier Family Law Attorneys

A House Divided

A House Divided

In a divorce, who usually gets the house?

A childhood home is something to be cherished, full of laughter and joy. But what happens to that home if mom and dad decide to split up?

For many families, the marital residence is their major asset, especially today when homes in North Texas are dramatically increasing in value. It is not unusual for homes in all price ranges to have a market value that’s 25-30% higher than two years ago. Being “house rich” can be a good thing when you are looking at a major disruption in your life.

But you also have to consider the value of your home to your family. If this is the only home your children have lived in, they may have a greater attachment to it than you do.

Consider the best interests of the children

If you are contemplating a divorce, you need to take this into consideration when deciding where your children will live and who will own the home.

The temporary period between when the divorce is filed and when it is final is particularly sensitive for everyone. One parent usually moves out of the house, while the other stays there with the children. A few parents wanting to maintain the stability for the children will engage in what is called “nesting,” where children reside in the home full time while the parents move in and out of the home in alternate weeks per the schedule. This is only recommended when parents can amicably co-parent.

Temporary orders tell the parties what they must do during this period, including appointing parents as conservators of the children, deciding when and where visitation will take place and awarding use of property, including the family home.

The first step in determining who will get the home when the divorce is final is to find out which of the parties want the house. Some will, others won’t. Then you must ascertain who will be able to afford the house, including mortgage payments, taxes and insurance, utilities and upkeep.

Don’t let emotion control you

Some clients are blinded by the sheer emotional need to stay in the home that they fight just to keep it. In that case, I do everything possible to bring realism to the situation. They may have struggled to pay for the home with two incomes. What makes them believe they can do it alone? Many people during this time finally come to the conclusion that they must sell the house.

Texas is a community property state, meaning all property acquired during the marriage that is not the separate property should be divided equally at divorce. So if one party gets the home, there must be assets to compensate the other party for the lost equity.

Without other assets, the only solution is to sell the house and split the proceeds. So to answer your question, no one “usually” gets the marital home, just as homes are not “usually” sold. Each case proceeds on its own merits, and the disposition of each home must be done with a great cause, compassion and a look toward your family’s future.