How Do We Split the House? How Mediation Can Help with Property Division
One of the biggest potential landmines in any divorce is the family home. If you own your own home (or maybe even more than one if you own vacation or rental property), how can you equitably “split” the house in divorce? Many questions arise:
What happens if both of you want to keep it?
What if one of you wants to live in it, while the other wants their half of their investment in it—a large outlay of cash that could be hard to come up with?
Do you need to sell the home to settle debts that you incurred as a couple?
What are the tax implications of selling and splitting the proceeds?
What paperwork do you need to file to put the house in just one spouse’s name?
How do the concepts of “community property” and “separate property” come into play?
Real estate is a complex business. But while many aspects of real estate law and property division may be unfamiliar to you, a good divorce mediation firm will have extensive knowledge of ways to divide property equitably, how to balance child and spousal support with property division, and the laws and paperwork requirements you need to understand.
Experienced mediators have seen it all and helped hundreds of couples work through property disputes such as how to split the house so they’ll be able to ask the right questions to understand your needs and provide ideas that will lead to solutions. What’s more, these solutions will be sustainable: Mediators can see far down the road and understand the implications of property division on taxes, pensions, wills, and other legal issues. Your outcome will be legal and sustainable.
When you head into mediation, come prepared.
These tasks will help you and your spouse develop a divorce mediation agreement that you can both live with.
Gather the paperwork.
Bring mortgage, deed, and other paperwork related to your property/properties.
Create a list of other property in dispute.
This may include cars, recreational vehicles, timeshares, furniture, electronics, jewelry, artwork, or investments. Bring any paperwork related to these items.
Consider your needs.
If your divorce is amicable enough, talk with your partner about your vision of the future. Do you have children that you’d like to co-parent in the family home? Does one of you want to move out of the area for a job or to be closer to extended family? Do you both want to sell — or do you both want to stay? Write a list of each of your needs and wants, as well as pros and cons of the scenarios you can envision.
Create a temporary housing plan.
A divorce through mediation can take up to 3-6 months or more. The time varies based on complexity and each spouse’s motivation, but is generally faster than a divorce that leads to court. However, during this time, you and your spouse need to develop a plan for your living arrangements. Some amicable couples decide to stay in the house together. In other cases, one spouse may move in with a relative nearby or rent an apartment during this “in-between” time. Whatever the case may be, it’s best to come to a solution that works for both of you.
Consult with other experts as needed.
The role of a divorce mediator is to listen and work with both parties to develop a Marital Settlement Agreement that you can live with today and in the future, as well as to assist with divorce paperwork. Part of this role is to suggest outside experts when necessary. If your property issues are particularly complex, they may suggest you consult with a financial adviser, business evaluator, or attorney well-versed in such situations.
Due to legal and tax issues, as well as your love of your home, considering how to split the house can be one of the most intimidating parts of a divorce. Let an expert guide you through the process. Contact South Bay Mediation to set up a free consultation to discuss your needs.