There are many issues that one may encounter in a divorce, from custody and child support to alimony and property division, almost every aspect of one's life will be affected by the divorce and the divorce process. Some issues will generally be more financial based while others may be more emotional. One issue that seems to include both a financial and an emotional aspect to it is the marital home.
What Do We Do With The Marital Home in a Divorce?
While divorce and the process of getting one is often slow and painful, one nice aspect of family law, is that there is a lot of flexibility on how to handle issues if the spouses (soon to be ex-spouses) can come to some agreements. The marital home is a good example of how there are several ways to handle different aspects of the divorce. First (and in most instances the best or at least most simple way to handle it) the parties can choose a mutually agreed upon realtor, sell the home and share the proceeds from the sale. Second, one party may keep the home and will essentially "buy-out" the other party's equity. Typically, there is no consideration given to costs of sale in this scenario, you just take the appraised value and subtract and loans secured by the home (mortgage, home equity, construction lien, etc.) and then divide by two to determine each party's share of the equity. Then the party that keeps the home will either refinance to obtain the cash for the "buy-out" or if there are sufficient other assets, that party can offset the value of the equity with other marital property or even potential alimony.
In some instances, typically where there are minor children, the parties may continue to share the home and the costs associated with the home in order to use the home for a "nesting" parenting time arrangement. In this situation, the children stay in the marital home and the parents then have separate residences where they go when not exercising parenting time. In some cases, the parties may agree that one party will reside in the home until the children graduate from high school and how to handle the expenses associated with the home until that time. Then upon the graduation, the parties sell the home and divide the equity. As one might guess, these types of agreements will only work in certain situations and requires the divorced parties to cooperate with one another at a relatively high level. There are other ways to handle the marital home as well that may work depending on the situation.
So When Can I Put the Home on the Market?
The answer is that it really depends on a few different factors. In some cases, where the parties agree that they will be moving out of the home and agree to sell the home as soon as possible for whatever reason (hot real estate market), then the parties can sell the home as soon as possible. If the divorce is not finalized by the time of the sale, the proceeds can be held in escrow either in is entirety or with some of the proceeds being granted to the parties immediately to help pay for moving expenses or as they see fit. However, in many cases, there are other ancillary issues that really should be resolved before the home is listed for sale. The first is child custody, parenting time and child support, if these issues have not been agreed upon, then the home should really not be listed until there is some agreement regarding these issues. Another such issue is alimony, the parties may not know whether they can afford to keep the home until they know what their budgets will be based upon how much one is paying and the other is receiving.
If you are considering a divorce or you are concerned that your spouse is considering a divorce, meeting with a well-qualified Michigan family law attorney or divorce lawyer is essential, frankly the sooner the better. Your attorney will be able to discuss your case and advise you on what you can expect from the process and an idea of how your case will proceed. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.