Getting a divorce in Georgia can have many impacts on your life. One of the most significant issues you might face is who gets to keep the house after the marriage ends. Dividing such a high-value asset can be complicated. Some spouses might be okay with leaving their ex the house, but in many cases, both spouses want to keep the property attached to so many memories – or the equity for the property.
Understanding how Georgia law handles property division and houses could influence how you approach your own situation. Learn more about splitting a home with your ex-spouse.
Georgia’s Equitable Division Laws
Under Georgia’s laws, marital assets and debts should be divided fairly between divorcing spouses. That doesn’t automatically mean everything is split 50/50. Any property you and your soon-to-be-ex shared during the marriage will be divided equitably, which means you may get more stuff, but the value of the property you both receive should be roughly equal.
When you’re trying to decide who should get the marital home, there are factors you must consider.
Is Your House Separate or Marital Property?
Determining which category your property falls into will be a large part of deciding who it ends up with after a divorce is finalized. Separate property is typically property you had before marriage, while marital property is acquired during the marriage.
If one of the spouses bought the house before the marriage, they have a good chance of arguing that the house belongs to them and should stay in their custody. However, if both spouses bought the house after the marriage started, you’ll need to consider other reasons to keep the house.
Who Contributed to the Home More?
When splitting property of a home in a divorce, you may need to consider who contributed to the house. Monetary value is considered, but the person responsible for its value is also essential. If one spouse directed home repairs or upkeep, it could be argued that they deserve to keep “more” of the house than the other spouse.
Determining who should get the house will balance these factors with other marital property available in the divorce. The formula isn’t cut and dry, so working closely with a family law attorney can help make the process smoother.
Who is Getting Custody of the Children?
Whenever children are involved in a divorce, they can further complicate property division. Many decisions regarding children must be made in their best interests and, in some cases, the children’s opinions are considered in any final decision.
If you are getting physical custody of the children, you can argue that their lives will be most stable if they stay in the house. If it’s in the children’s best interest to continue living there, custody is a strong argument for you to keep the house.
Each case is unique, so other factors can affect the claim of who should own the house. Be sure to discuss your circumstances with your attorney to get deeper insight and clarity into the legal process.
How to Divide the House in a Divorce
There are a few methods that can be used to divide the house fairly, if you and your spouse are in agreement.
- Buying out your spouse’s value: If your spouse agrees you can keep the house, you may need to “buy out” their equity in the property. That could mean giving up another property that totals in value to their portion of the house, or they could pay their part of a new mortgage with just your name on it.
- Selling the property: If both spouses agree to sell the house, you’ll divide the money from the sale, not the property itself. You’ll need to pay off any debt associated with the house and your realtor fees, and then you can divide the balance. This will be an equitable divide, not necessarily a half-and-half split.
- Co-owning the house: sharing the house with your spouse is a possible although often tricky solution to who gets the property after a divorce. It may be a good call to split the house if your finances don’t support a sale or keeping the house. It’s a good idea to make sure you have rules in place if this is the route you choose. Talk to your divorce lawyer to ensure you have the best agreement in place.
What Happens if No One Agrees How to Handle the House?
If neither spouse can agree who should have the house, the decision may be taken out of their hands entirely. Their divorce could be taken to trial, and a judge will evaluate their arguments before giving a verdict on who takes the house.
Your lawyer can prepare an argument about how to favorably divide the marital property involved and can provide you with a better chance at keeping the house.
Keeping the House: Things to Remember in the Divorce
Even if your first priority in a divorce is to keep the house, you should evaluate your circumstances. Can you afford the house on your own? Even if you are granted spousal support, you may not be getting enough to keep up with your mortgage payments. You should consider whether the decision to keep the house is the best call in the long term.
Giving up the house could be a blessing in disguise; maybe you want a fresh start somewhere else. The house might be an anchor keeping you in a place that reminds you of the heartache the divorce created. You might consider using the house’s equity to find a place to start fresh.
Why You Should Hire a Georgia Family Lawyer
No matter whether your marriage is ending cordially or you’re fighting through a contentious separation, you deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity. If you feel you deserve the house, you should have a chance at keeping it. You should work with an experienced Georgia family attorney. They can help protect your rights and work to help you end your marriage with the assets and resources you need to move forward.
Your attorney will be able to take stock of the marital and separate property involved in your divorce. You can expect them to evaluate your case and find the way to secure your marital home, if that’s your end goal. If you can’t keep the house, you can work with them to secure the equity from the house. Houses are high-value assets, and you should be able to keep your portion of what you’re owed. Hire a lawyer who keeps your goals a priority.
Call The Gentry Law Firm, LLC
The attorneys at The Gentry Law Firm, LLC, understand that divorce can bring stress and anxiety to your life, especially as you question what your future might hold. We’re here to reassure you that there’s hope, and we can help you fight for your home. We know that homes hold special memories of family, security, and love. Even if you decide you don’t want to keep yours, we will help you fight to get what you’re owed.
Our Founder, William C. Gentry, started this firm to help people as an honest and aggressive advocate. He wants what’s best for all of his clients, and our team is ready to help you accomplish just that. Share your story in a free initial consultation. Call (770) 425-5573 or use our contact form to get started.