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What will happen to my house in a divorce?

If you own a home, it is likely so much more than just an "asset." That home contains some of life's happiest memories. It could be where you raised your children, celebrated holidays, played in the yard or sat around the dinner table as a family.

For some people, those memories will be too painful in the event of a divorce, and they will want to get as far away from the house as possible. Other times, neither divorcing spouse wants to move out. This is why control of the home can always be one of the most bitter, emotional disputes with a divorce.

Determining Marital And Non-Marital Assets

Kentucky is an "equitable distribution" state, which means that any assets ruled as marital (generally, assets acquired during the marriage) will be split in a "fair and equitable" manner, even if that does not mean exactly evenly.

If you owned the home before the marriage, any equity and non-marital money that you put into the home will be considered your "non-marital contributions." Any money you and your spouse used to pay the mortgage will be considered the "marital contributions."

If you and your spouse bought the house together and you decide to sell it, it is likely that any proceeds would be evenly split, since any assets would be considered marital, even if you were the primary breadwinner.

What If One Of Us Wants To Stay In The House?

Sometimes, each spouse just thinks he or she has the right to stay in the home because of how the divorce unfolded. Other times, the child custody process can play a role, because divorcing parents will not want to make children under 18 move out of the home. Many divorcing couples admirably want to minimize disruption in their children's lives.

In the case that one spouse will remain in the house, the remaining spouse may buy out the other spouse's share of the house. In some cases, this may not be possible because the remaining spouse does not have the money to buy out the other spouse.

Negotiation Is Typically Preferable To Trial

When dividing the home, just like any other portion of your divorce, it is typically better to work with your spouse on finding a workable solution that everyone can live with. No one understands your financial situation better than you and your spouse.

In the event that you leave the fate of the home in the hands of a judge, it is likely that both you and your spouse will not be happy with the result. Family court judges do not have an in-depth understanding of your marriage, and they will likely not rule in a way that is sensitive to any of your concerns.

Of course, if your spouse is refusing to negotiate in good faith, it may be necessary to consider taking your case to trial. However, do not let emotions alone dictate your decisions. You could end up spending more on a trial then if you had simply decided to come to an agreement on dividing the house.