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Dividing the family home in divorce: it can get complicated, P.1

The two most important issues that have to be dealt with in the divorce process are child custody and property division. One area where both of these issues can intersect is with the disposition of the family home. For most couples, the family home most important asset they have to their name, and determining how the property should be handled can be a contentious matter.

When a couple cannot agree on who should take possession of the family home, it can get complicated. First of all, there is the question of who should be awarded possession of the home. Washington courts seek to divide assets in a “just and equitable” manner, and consider various factors when determining the proper outcome.

One of the factors Washington courts look at when dividing the family home is the economic circumstances of each spouse, including the “desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods” to the party with whom the children live most of the time. Custody determinations, for their part, are dependent on what is in the best interests of the child, which also involves consideration of a variety of factors.  

Even when a couple can agree on the disposition of the family home, or when a court makes that determination for them, there can be complications. For one thing, the party who seeks to take the home must have the financial wherewithal to do so. He or she must be able to buy the other party out for his or her share of the family home. This may be done with his or her own share of the marital estate, or by cashing out equity from the family home through refinancing.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic.

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