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Yours, mine or ours? Splitting up the family home

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2016 | Family Law |

You don’t have to be a celebrity with homes scattered across the globe to wind up with your relationship in tatters and headed for divorce court. While dividing up the spoils of Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s marriage will likely be a complex matter, non-famous couples still struggle with issues like determining who gets the former family home.

People become emotionally attached to their homes, especially if it is the place where they reared their children. They can symbolize concepts that have become larger than life — ideals that embody security, love and family.

But the family home is usually the largest asset owned by a couple. If they can reach accord on how to split it up, whether one person buys the other out or they sell it and split the profits, it is usually better than leaving it up to a judge to decide.

The court can force couples to sell their former home, as this is often the simplest way to handle it. This can be even more traumatic than if the couple reached this conclusion on their own. But because judges must chose solutions that are in the children’s best interest, they may be hesitant to order the family home of minor children be put on the market.

Ensuring that the kid’s lives aren’t unnecessarily disrupted could mean that the spouse who is awarded physical custody of the kids gets to live in the home, as long as they can afford to. Even if their salary makes this proposition iffy, the addition of child and/or spousal support could enable them to afford to live there.

Homes that have belonged to one side of the family for generations, or those that were bequeathed to a spouse through inheritance, are likely to remain the property of that spouse even when both the husband and wife have are listed on the deed. This asset allocation can be offset with other financial awards.

This can be a risky trade-off, however. Consider the maintenance costs associated with keeping the family home. Compare them to the zero dollars spent maintaining a cushy 401(k). That chunk of real estate can cost you dearly over time.

As always, when it comes to a divorce, each party should consult with his or her own North Carolina attorney before agreeing to any settlements.

Source:, “Getting a Divorce? Here’s Why You Might Not Get the House,” Warren Christopher Freiberg, Sep. 21, 2016


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