It’s not always best to fight for the family home

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | High-Asset Divorce |

One big question that comes up in many Virginia divorces is which spouse will get to stay in the family home.

A couple’s primary residence is often one of their most valuable assets. The home may also have a lot of sentimental value to both spouses. Neither one of them may find it easy to part with the home, especially if they are raising children in it.

Most of the time, a family’s residence will be marital property under Virginia law. Like other marital property, the divorcing couple will have to agree how to divide the house. Otherwise, the court will divide it in a way it deems fair.

Even if one’s first instinct is to try to hang on to the family home, they need to consider several factors:

  • Homes are expensive to repair and maintain. They also require utilities, taxes, and insurance. Most homeowners will also be paying off a mortgage.
  • After a divorce, it is likely that the person with the home will have a lower family income and fewer assets to cover the costs of owning a home.
  • Usually, the spouse who does not keep the home will be entitled to their fair share in the home’s equity. The person keeping the house will need to be able to compensate their spouse for their fair share.
  • The person keeping the home may be expected to refinance to get the other spouse’s name off any mortgage.
  • In high-asset cases, the person who keeps the home will need to remember that they can only exempt so much from federal capital gains tax should they wish to sell the home to a third party down the road.
  • One option is for neither spouse to keep the home. The couple can agree to sell it and divide the proceeds.

With respect to whether to try to keep the family home, each Northern Virginia resident’s circumstances are slightly different.

While it may make perfect sense for one person to keep their primary residence, another person in a slightly different situation may not want to keep the family home.

It is important for each person to understand their best legal option given their circumstances.