Divorce is hard enough without the pragmatic concerns surrounding it. You need time to heal and readjust, but now you must worry about income, support, and, of course, housing. For many, houses are more important than just a place to live. People have an emotional connection to their homes, especially if they were the primary caretaker.
Many often wonder how they can keep their homes in a divorce. There is no one, surefire way to ensure that you will keep your home, but there are ways you can try: through an ugly court battle, or through a collaborative mediation.
An Ugly Courtroom Battle
In California, assets are divided in a “community property” model. Essentially, any property that was purchased during the marriage belongs to both parties. This includes the family home. The state attempts to divide property equally, meaning each party receives 50% of the marital assets. When it comes to property that cannot be split, like a home, the court must find a way to make property division fair. It may grant the home to one party, asking that person to pay the other half the cost of the home. The court could ask them to give up material property, such as jewelry and the car, instead. It could outright ask them to sell the home and split the money afterward.
If you already owned your home before the marriage, it is considered individual property. Individual property rarely gets granted to the other party in a divorce, but it can. If your former spouse convinces the judge that they are more deserving of the home, you could lose it.
Contested divorces go to trial. Often, hurt feelings and a sense of entitlement lead each side to want a “win.” A big part of that win, for many, is the acquisition of property, notably the house. Each side throws accusations and defenses at one another. Witnesses are called, and skeletons are exposed. Everyone fights hard to convince the court that they are more deserving of the home. This person says that they spent more money on the home; that person argues that they maintained the home and kept it clean. The result is people who once loved one another becoming enemies, and family relationships are shattered.
Uncontested Divorce Through Mediation
Fortunately, there is a better way. You do not need to fight out the terms of your divorce. Through mediation, you can work together to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Mediation is a process where you hire an impartial third party to help you reach the terms of your divorce. You can decide on most anything, from property division to spousal support to child custody and beyond.
A skilled mediator will help you truly hear one another. They can reframe the situation, reflecting it back in a way you may not have considered. With their help, you can communicate with your spouse, instead of fighting against one another. At its best, mediation becomes a collaborative process – one last project you can work on together before ending the relationship. Who knows? You may be able to part as friends. You may be surprised to realize that you don’t need the house after all, and you can have peace of mind parting with it.
After agreeing on your terms, you can file for an uncontested divorce. With your mediator, you will write out the final agreement. After you submit it to the courts, there will be a short waiting period. Once that ends, the divorce is finalized, and you can move forward. It’s as simple as that.
Again, there is no surefire way to keep your home in a divorce. However, you can have a less stressful ending to your union. You may even discover that fighting against each other is not worth the price of the home.
If you need help creating a more amicable dissolution of your marriage, contact Alternative Divorce Solutions today. Our mission is to make this difficult time easier for everyone. You can call us at (949) 558-2624 or contact us online.