Can You Get Divorced and Still Own A House Together?
Splitting property in a divorce gets more complicated the larger the assets get. And few couples own anything larger than their house.
There are a several ways to deal with the family home when you and your partner are going your separate ways, but finding the best way to handle property division in divorce could depend on finding experienced legal help.
How Do You Separate Property in a Divorce?
You could try to determine the divide on your own, but agreements on big-ticket assets can be difficult. In these cases, you can ask the court for help when dividing the assets you acquired during your marriage.
Those assets include marital property, or property and debts you claimed after your marriage and before your separation. Separate assets, those that a spouse owned before the marriage, might not get split.
The Family House Can Fit Into Different Categories
If the family home purchase was before marriage, or the property was inherited or came as a gift, it could be separate property.
The house can become marital property if you refinanced or took out a home equity loan and changed the deed to include both of your names. Individual property can also become comingled when one spouse contributes finances or effort into a house the other spouse owns.
If the property’s value has increased during your marriage, that difference could also be divided between you. While the judge will likely consider the home property of one spouse or the other, the additional value could be divisible.
Once you know where the house stands, it’s time to consider how equitable distribution will impact the process. Property in North Carolina isn’t split down the middle, but rather the judge will look at what can be a fair division.
RELATED: Equitable Distribution – What Does “Marital Property” Mean in Property Division Cases?
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How Can You Divide the Real Estate?
When it comes time to define terms for a settlement agreement, there are a few potential avenues toward an equitable division. While you can’t outright split a house in two, there are ways you can divide the worth. One spouse might have to buy out the other, or you can sell the property, with each getting a share of the resulting amount.
A third option is co-owning the home. Whether you want to keep the house for the kids or there’s currently a weak real estate market, there could be tempting reasons for the house to stay in the family.
Shared Living Space With the Other Spouse
You could continue to share the home over time, but that isn’t usually a desirable option for the recently divorced. This is also hard to come by when North Carolina requires you to be living in a different home for one year to be legally separated, which is a requirement for an absolute divorce.
Moving back in after that time might be a necessity, though isn’t often the first choice for most divorced couples. There are many other situations, however, where continued co-ownership of a home might be the most desirable option.
Spreading Payments Over Time
When one spouse can’t afford to buy out the other, and neither of you wants to sell, co-ownership can take another form. You could find an arrangement that works for meeting the mortgage while retaining a shared interest in the home.
Renting Out a Joint Property
The home might continue to make sense as a business venture. When a home has other tenets and becomes a source of income, that monthly rent and the mortgage and upkeep expenses could be split between parties.
Custody and the Family Home
Custody can take on a new look. Although uncommon, a trend has emerged in recent years called nesting. When you share time as the custodial parent, the children’s lives can be disrupted by moving between homes. Nesting uses the family home as the common ground for the kids, and it’s the parents who move in and out as their custody agreement dictates.
Alternatively, the parent with custody can remain living the home, while the other parent contributes to the mortgage or upkeep as part of division or custody.
What Problems Come With Joint Ownership?
If you agree to move past selling and splitting, there are still plenty of things to consider. You’ll likely need to spell a lot out in your terms in case certain situations arise:
- Property disagreements: It could be best to set up a plan for when there’s friction. Plans for the house, like splitting mortgage interest deduction, paying for upgrades, and even selling could benefit from preestablished mediation.
- Tax implications: While you’ll still have to pay property taxes, it’s important to remember sales tax. You get a window where you may not have to face taxes for a sale after divorce, but that option likely isn’t in place forever.
- Right of survivorship: If one spouse passes, what happens to their share of the property depends on how you define your ownership.
- Bankruptcy: When one of you files for bankruptcy, it can have a drastic effect on possessions. While the sale of the house isn’t a guarantee, you may need to consider how it will affect your shared home.
Myers Law Firm Can Help With Approaching Marital Property Division
While keeping the family home isn’t for everyone, even those that see it as a viable way forward could be in for complicated decision-making. Divorce and property division can be hard enough, but negotiating terms for co-ownership can be an especially difficult task.
With more than 60 years of combined experience, Myers Law Firm can aid clients in assessing, splitting, and sharing large assets they acquired during their marriage.
Contact us by calling (888) 376-2889 or complete this short online contact form to schedule a brief consultation.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-6
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-21
R., Branan. Land Title: Understanding Rights in Real and Personal Property. NC State Extension. Retrieved from URL https://farmlaw.ces.ncsu.edu/land-use-and-zoning/land-ownership-and-liability/land-title-understanding-rights-in-real-and-personal-property/
Separation and Divorce. North Carolina Judicial Branch. Retrieved from https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/divorce/separation-and-divorce
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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