The distribution of what is often the most significant piece of community property--the marital home--can be up to the discretion of the court or to the negotiations of the divorcing parties. Either way, it is never easy to divest oneself emotionally, physically, or economically from what was once the center of a couple's or a family's life. Collin County Divorce Attorneys illustrate below three options: 

     1.  Deferred Distribution: Distributing the equity in the marital home is deferred to a future date, such as the youngest child turning 18, when the home will be sold and the proceeds split however has been determined.  This option gives exclusive possession and use to one spouse, often to allow children to stay in their "family home." Other conditions, such as the non-occupying spouse contributing toward the mortgage and property taxes, could be included.  

     2.  Distributive Shares Awarded:  Basically, this is simply done by dividing into shares the total amount of money the couple would get from selling the house and then: (a) giving each spouse a share; (b) awarding the home to one spouse on the condition that he or she pays or buys out the other spouse's share; (c) awarding exclusive possession to one spouse for a certain period after which the home is sold and shares divided; (d) ordering the home sold with shares divided as directed by the court or property settlement. 

     In options #1 and #2, the marital home is looked at as an asset to be divided between the divorcing parties, and the big question is how to make the division fair.  In addition to other factors, both options above look at the equity accrued in the marital home and formulate creative ways to ensure both parties get their fair share of that equity while still taking into consideration important factors such as allowing children to remain in the home, or waiting to sell the home until the market improves and the equity can be maximized.

     3.  Unlike the first two options, the third option your Collin County Divorce Attorneys advise clients about is the possibility that the court may award the home, or as part of a property settlement it may be awarded, to only one spouse. Many considerations are involved in such an award; the ability of each spouse to service the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities, other assets or liabilities may be exchanged, spousal support and/or child support may be offset by the award, etc.  If the home has a mortgage in both spouses' names, the spouse to whom the home is awarded may need to refinance the home in his or her name only. There should be a date set for the completion of the refinancing; too often, remaining spouses do not complete this step and non-occupying ex-spouses are left financially obligated beyond what is stipulated to in the property settlement. If possible, complete the refinancing prior to the conclusion of the divorce.

     The above are just three answers to the question of what happens to the marital home when a marriage ends. For information specific to your particular situation, call you Collin County Divorce Attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC.