When it comes to the issue of property division, divorcing spouses are frequently willing and able to work toward mutually acceptable solutions. However, there is at least one marital asset that can prove problematic for even those couples on the best of terms: the martial home.
That's because not only is the marital home likely one of their single most valuable assets, there is also the distinct possibility that it has considerable sentimental value, particularly if it's where they raised a family.
All of this naturally raises the question as to what divorcing couples can do when it comes to the marital home. Interestingly enough, experts have indicated that there are generally three viable options.
Sell the home
According to experts, this is often the ideal choice for those couples who have equity in the marital home, as they can simply put the home on the market and split the proceeds accordingly. In addition to facilitating a clean break, it also means neither spouse will be saddled with mortgage payments that they perhaps can't afford on their own and the associated maintenance costs.
One spouse assumes the payments
If one spouse decides that they would like to retain the home, experts indicate that not only will this need to be accounted for in the final property division agreement, but that the spouse who is moving on from the home should take steps to ensure they are financially protected going forward.
That's because even if their spouse is trustworthy, there's always the possibility that they could fall behind on mortgage payments due to unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment, injury or illness. If this happens, the ex-spouse, whose name is on the mortgage, will suddenly find themselves facing serious financial issues as they are still on the hook for payments in the eyes of the law.
In these scenarios, experts indicate that the spouse keeping the marital home must refinance it under their name only.
Keep the home
While the real estate market is improving, there is still a good chance that divorcing couples can't realize a profit on the sale of their home. In these scenarios, experts indicate that divorcing couples could consider everything from a short sale to renting out the home.
While continuing to live under the same roof is also an option, it's important to remember that couples here in North Carolina must have been legally separated for 12 months before they can secure a divorce. As such, this will need to be considered.
As you can see from the forgoing conversation, property division as it relates to the marital home is far from a simple matter. As such, those with questions or concerns about this -- and other divorce-related issues -- should give serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional.