Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

3 reasons a marital home can be a challenge during divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2023 | Divorce

When preparing for a divorce in Virginia, couples either need to reach agreements on certain matters or gather documentation to support their positions in court. For property division purposes, few assets tend to be as challenging for couples to address as real property, such as a couple’s marital home.

The house where people lived together can be very difficult for them to rationally discuss in the context of divorce. All three of the factors below contribute to how challenging it can be to settle matters related to the home where a couple has lived.

Living in the property before the divorce is finalized

One of the biggest challenges couples may face when preparing for divorce while they own real estate together is the pressure to continue cohabitating. Many people are loath to give up their possession of the property even temporarily during divorce, as they convince themselves that they’re short-term living arrangements could significantly impact either property settlement negotiations or the final determination of a judge. A divorcing couple may therefore need to put together very clear rules for cohabitation and covering the costs of home maintenance and other expenses until they can actually begin living separately.

Agreeing on who will own the house post-divorce

Emotional attachments to the home and concern about the needs of the children and the family can make decisions about who stays in the marital house particularly difficult for couples to make. In some cases, both spouses will hope to stay in the home because that may influence how much time they have with the children or allow them to remain in the same community where they have lived for years. Those competing emotional interests can make it very difficult for people to address their primary residence in a rational manner during a divorce.

Determining the home’s value

Real property is a major investment that can consume as much as a third of a family’s monthly income in the form of mortgage payments and more than that when it comes to upgrades and maintenance of the property. Spouses may have a hard time agreeing on how much the home is worth, which will be an important factor for property division. After all, the fair market value set for the home will ultimately determine how much equity one spouse may receive or what other assets they can obtain for giving up their interest in the home.

For those preparing for divorce in Virginia, achieving an equitable division of marital assets will almost inevitably require making some major decisions about a couple’s marital home. Identifying the factors that can lead to conflict during a Virginia divorce ahead of time may help people better manage property division negotiations or prepare their evidence for litigation purposes.


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