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What to do with the house in a divorce

California couples who own a home together and have decided to end their marriage face large financial decisions. Advice from a tax accountant or financial planner could be appropriate as they weigh options about whether or not to sell a home.

Many couples choose to sell the home and divide the proceeds from the sale if anything is left after selling expenses and paying off a mortgage. This approach provides each former partner with a clean break from the past, but getting the best price possible remains a priority. The services of a skilled listing agent could allow the co-owners to maximize their proceeds.

Another approach would require one spouse to buy out the other spouse’s half of the property. To avoid liability for the existing mortgage signed by both people, the buyer would need to refinance the home under one name. This could prove difficult if the single income cannot qualify for a new mortgage on the house. If a person moves out but does nothing to alter the loan, the lender will continue to hold both people accountable for the payment. Such a liability could reduce a person’s chance of getting a loan for another home.

A person thinking about filing for divorce could talk to a family law attorney about how the law might divide property. An attorney could help identify marital and nonmarital assets and negotiate with the former partner to determine the financial terms. In addition to splitting real estate, an attorney could inform the client about rights to retirement funds, spousal support or business assets.