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Deciding how to split the primary residence in a divorce

A North Carolina couple engaged in a high-asset divorce must decide how to deal with their primary residence. Even if they successfully agree on other aspects of property division, making a decision about the house they have shared can bring up difficult emotions and lead to costly mistakes.

There are several options to consider in regards to the primary residence. The most straightforward choice is to sell the home and divide the profits. Depending on variables such as the source of the funds for the down payment and division of other property, these proceeds may not be split 50/50. While a sale is often the simplest way to deal with a house, it's important that both parties work together to ensure the property sells for the highest possible price.

Another option is for one spouse to buy out the other. This can be difficult if the mortgage was obtained using both incomes. Even if one person signs away ownership in the deed, the mortgage company will still consider both people liable for the debt if the mortgage is not paid off and refinanced. The spouse who wishes to stay in the house may have a hard time refinancing on a single income.

A final option is for both spouses to retain joint ownership of the house. This may postpone the issues of selling or refinancing the house but is rarely a viable permanent solution. If this option is chosen, tax implications must be considered.

Because property division can be complex and mistakes can be expensive, a lawyer could provide valuable support during this process. An attorney may also help with shared accounts, property valuation, and any other legal issues that arise during a divorce.

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