During a divorce, many people’s biggest fear is that they’ll be forced to give up their beloved home. The home is where the heart is, after all. It’s also the most valuable asset most people own. If a judge can force you to sell a house during a divorce, you may not just lose your beloved home but also wind up temporarily homeless.
That brings up an important question: can judges actually force you to sell your house when you get divorced? The answer is complicated. Keep reading to learn how judges are involved in the asset division process, when they can force you to sell your house, and what you can do about it.
Judges’ Roles in Asset Division
Judges only get involved in the asset division process if you and your spouse can’t agree on how you want to split things up. If you take your divorce to court, the judge in charge of your case is responsible for resolving any disputes you and your spouse have, especially regarding asset division.
If you and your spouse can’t agree on who gets to keep a home, the judge will issue an order for who should receive it and in what form. If you and your partner can’t agree on who should take the house, the judge may order you to sell it. In most cases, the order will require you to use the proceeds to cover the mortgage, then equally divide the remainder.
This may seem unfair, but it’s ultimately the simplest way to follow California’s community property laws. Selling the property resolves a significant source of debt and ensures that both parties get 50% of the house’s equity.
Keeping Your Home During Your Divorce
If you truly want to keep your house, here are a few things you can do to reduce the chance that a judge will order you to sell it in your divorce:
- Attempt mediation. The simplest path is to try to talk things out with your spouse. This can work if you and your spouse are still on friendly terms. The mediator will help you and your lawyers find a solution that makes everyone happy. In this case, no judges get involved at all.
- Negotiate trades with other assets. Whether you’re in mediation or in court, you can trade other assets for your home. For instance, you may offer a retirement account in exchange for the property. If your spouse prefers the other assets, you may get to keep your house worry-free.
- Offer to buy out your spouse. If your spouse does fight for the house, you can offer to buy them out. In this case, you take on the entire mortgage and give your spouse liquid or other assets equal to their share of the equity in the property.
Get Legal Help to Keep Your House
If you want to make sure you keep your home after your split, you need to work with an experienced divorce attorney. Reach out to the qualified team at Viola Law Firm, P.C. They’re prepared to help you fight for your property and give you the best possible chance of retaining it.