Who keeps the marital home in a Washington divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Divorce |

Most people find the idea of divorce disconcerting, partially because of how much it destabilizes household finances. Spouses have to pay for the divorce itself, and they also need to divide their property with one another.

Unless spouses previously negotiated a marital agreement, community property laws influence what happens with their resources. The average person may struggle to understand what assets are part of their marital estate and what assets are separate property that they don’t have to share.

Those concerned about the community property division process may specifically worry about their most valuable shared resources, like the home where they live. After years of working together to build up equity in the home, neither spouse is likely eager to give up their interest in the marital house. Who typically keeps the house in a Washington divorce?

Many factors influence possession

In many divorces, both spouses prefer to stay in the marital home. Sometimes, due to their custody arrangements or other special considerations, they can reach an amicable agreement about which spouse stays in the home and which one leaves.

Some people readily admit they cannot manage sole homeownership. Finances, physical ability or memories attached to the home may make one person concede that the other can stay there while they leave. Other times, a judge has to make decisions about possession or the right to stay in the home.

Spouses may still need to address its value

Contrary to what people claim, simply staying in the home doesn’t give someone total control over it or its value. The spouse staying in the home may still have to compensate the other for a reasonable share of home equity.

The spouse who stays in the home typically needs to compensate the other spouse for their share of equity. Doing so might require refinancing the property to withdraw equity or allowing their spouse to keep various other assets from the marital estate. Investment resources, vacation homes and vehicles are some of the assets that could help offset home equity during a divorce.

Those concerned about what community property rules might mean for their interest in a house may need help learning about asset division laws. That information can help them plan for their upcoming divorce. Understanding how community property works is a first step or achieving an appropriate outcome in a Washington divorce.