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Vikki on Who Gets the House

When it comes to the house a couple has raised their children in, who gets it? 

Often times people don't want to sell or move out of their marital home that they have lived in for a long period of time. Many people become attached to the decor, the memories and exiting their beloved home signifies the end of their marriage which can be extremely painful and difficult. Courts most often will compel the sale of a home, which is most people's biggest asset, to free up liquidity in a divorce. One party or the other can opt to have the right of first refusal which means they, too, can be a qualified buyer at fair market if they can afford and qualify to purchase the home.

Judges do have difficult decisions to make when it comes to the timing of selling a home when children are involved and still in school. Moving children out of a school district can be trying and certainly a challenging transition especially when a divorce is ongoing. Sometimes, courts postpone the sale of a marital residence until a child graduates middle school or even high school depending on the school, location and best interests of the child. However, if both parties can agree outside the courtroom on what they should do with respect to the home, both parties are invariably better off. Why, you might ask. Well, firstly, the parties can collectively create a plan and budget their time and money accordingly. No one person is uprooted from the home quickly. Secondly, the parties can sit their children down together and discuss the family's future and plans to move/live separately without a divergence of positions. Talking about the house with your soon-to-be ex rather than compelling a court to decide your geographical future is much more palpable.

That is why I was so proud of Stuart and Iret for being able to be open-minded about Iret staying in the house for a period of time to transition their son from high school. Stuart was very reasonable in his approach to allow Iret to stay in the marital home in Florida for two years. Stuart travels often for work and is hardly home so the couple can decouple and consider their future plans without rushing to sell their home with hopes that the market will improve and they are able to garner more value for their home in the future as well.

By discussing a fair resolution with the help of a mediator, Stuart and Iret will be able to live independently and divorce in the future with dignity and their children's best interests as their main priority.


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