There are so many questions that face a person who is considering divorce or separation. Those include questions about all aspects of their future, including child custody, parenting time and support, alimony, division of property, how debts will be handled, future financial stability and where to reside and these are just some of the issues that may have to be addressed. It can cause a lot of anxiety that is often exacerbated by one spouse making threats regarding what they will do if the other spouse does file for divorce. One common threat is the spouse that is against the divorce or separation will threaten that they will force the filing spouse out of the home and/or sell their home and move out (with the children, if they have children).
Will a Judge Force Me to Sell My Home If My Spouse Demands It?
The court will not in most cases order one spouse to vacate the home absent abusive conduct, nor will the court in most cases force the parties to sell the home if one of them wants to keep it. If one spouse does want to keep the home, then the first thing a judge will require is an appraisal of the home by a reputable appraiser. Then the judge may order the home to be sold but more often, if one spouse does want it, then the judge will allow that spouse to keep the home but offset the value against other property or require a refinance to "buy-out" the other spouse's equity. It does not matter whether the home is titled in both spouse's names or only the name of one spouse, if one of them wants to keep it, regardless of whether it is titled in that spouse's name, the judge can award it to the spouse that wants to keep the home.
While it is true that a judge may not necessarily order the sale of the home, one should really first consider whether it is economically wise to do so. First, the court does not typically factor in any costs of sale when calculating the equity in the home to be divided, it is simply appraised value minus mortgage (and any home equity lines of credit or other liens against the home). This means that the person to whom the home is awarded will eventually bear all the costs of sale when they eventually sell the home. In addition, if one party owned the home before the marriage, then that party will most likely be awarded any equity that existed in the home at the date of the marriage, so if that is not the party that is awarded the home, then that equity must also be bought out through a refinance or awards of other property to the other spouse in an amount sufficient to offset the value of their share of the equity. Finally, one must consider whether or not they will be able to afford the monthly payments on the home post-divorce as it is typically more expensive to maintain two households than one.
If you are considering filing for divorce or are concerned that your spouse is considering filing for divorce, it is imperative to meet with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer as soon as possible, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation.