Distribution of Marital Property: The House

In California, when spouses are going through a divorce, a judge will divide all marital property in accordance with community property laws. Your Orange County family lawyer will help you understand the meaning of community property and how it will affect the outcome of your divorce. In general, community property states are those with laws that divide all marital property 50/50 regardless of income contribution, earning potential, occupation or any other equitable factor. In other words, the spouse who served as a primary breadwinner, essentially paying for all the marital property, can only retain a 50 percent interest in any asset acquired during the marriage.


Disposition of the Marital Home

The house is always the biggest concern for divorcing spouses as it usually represents the largest asset held together. In a community property divorce, the judge will evaluate the value of the home and decide how the asset will be divided. Three important preliminary questions are:

  • Does either party want to remain in possession of the house?
  • Can either party afford the house on his or her own income?
  • Can the parties agree on a value of the home?

As your Orange County family lawyer will explain, the answers to these questions will greatly affect the outcome of the disposition of the home. If neither party wishes to remain in possession of the house, it must be sold with the proceeds divided equally. If one party wishes to remain in the house, a buy-out arrangement must be made so the other party receives his/her 50 percent interest in the asset.

Disposing of the House

Depending on the situation, disposing of the marital house can range from relatively simple to excessively complex. If the divorce is amicable and neither party wishes to remain in the home, the simple solution is to sell property and split the profit down the middle. This is not always the case, however, and one party either wishes to remain in the home or does not agree to the value of the home.

When parties begin to conflict on these issues, it becomes more necessary to engage in costly litigation. Commonly, both sides will hire the services of a professional appraiser, who will examine the entire property to determine its value. The parties will then attend a hearing before a judge who will weigh the evidence to decide the actual value of the property and how much one party must pay the other party to satisfy his or her interest.

If you are facing an impending divorce or have questions about your marital assets, contact attorney Bethanie Fanti today: (714)-505-3108.

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