Financial matters are the greatest source of arguments among married couples, so it’s no surprise that they also raise some of the biggest conflicts in divorce proceedings. When questions arise about the family home, there are not only financial issues but also intense emotional attachments coming into play.
So when you divorce in Massachusetts, who gets to keep the house that you put so much into over the years? If one partner bought the house before the marriage, do they get to keep it? Does it matter if one spouse has primary custody of the kids? While many factors can affect a court’s decision about the family home, a Massachusetts divorce lawyer could work to help you keep the house if that is a priority for you.
A Family Home is Usually Treated as Marital Property
Both your primary residence and any vacation homes are likely to
be treated as marital property subject to division in divorce. That means a
court would divide the equity in the home on a fair or equitable basis according to Massachusetts divorce laws.
If you bought or inherited the home prior to the marriage, you might be entitled to a greater share of the equity, and it is even possible the home could be treated as your separate property. However, if both of you used the house for a significant time, it will probably be treated as marital property to be split.
The court might start with the presumption that each spouse is entitled to a roughly equal share of the equity. Then equity might be adjusted to account for factors such as:
- How much each partner contributed to the purchase and upkeep
- How long ago the home was purchased
- The amount of time the couple lived together in the home
- The age and health of each spouse
- The occupation and incomes of each spouse
If you decide that keeping that property is a priority, you may need to consider what other assets you would be willing to give up to acquire your ex’s share of the equity.
When Children Are Involved
One factor that can have a considerable effect on decisions about the family home is whether a couple has children with connections to the home and surrounding area.
If one spouse has primary custody of children who are used to living in the home, the court could award ownership to that spouse, or treat use of the home as part of the child support arrangement. In some cases, the non-custodial spouse still maintains a share of equity, but they cannot cash in on that equity until a later time.
How a Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer Could Help You Keep Your Home
If you want to continue to live in the family home, your divorce lawyer can work to negotiate an arrangement that would be approved by the court as part of an overall equitable division of property. If both you and your ex are fighting to keep the house, your lawyer could prepare persuasive arguments to show the court why it is most equitable to rule in your favor.
To talk to one of the experienced family law attorneys at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group about strategies for keeping your house in divorce, contact us now for a confidential consultation.