Married couples at all stages of life may own a home. Young couples in the Visalia area may have purchased their starter home, middle-aged couples may be raising their family in their forever home and retirees may have downsized to a smaller home. However, what all these couples have in common is that, if they decide to divorce, they must decide what to do with what may be their most valuable asset — their home.

One option is for one spouse to keep the home, buying out the other spouse’s share or awarding the other spouse an equivalent amount of marital assets. It is important that the spouse keeping the home can afford it on a single income. Remember, there are expenses that come with homeownership. There may be a mortgage if the home is not paid off, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance will need to be paid, and eventually the home will need maintenance and possibly updating. This is in addition to being able to afford to buy out the other spouse’s fair market value of the home.

If keeping the home isn’t financially feasible for either spouse, they may decide to sell the family home and divide the proceeds. One advantage to this is that it provides both spouses with a clean break from one another. Some things to consider in this situation is the strength of the current housing market, and whether it is in your best interests to downsize, especially if you have children.

An unusual option that may work for some is for both parties to co-own the family home. This entails a great deal of cooperation. Spouses will have to determine how the mortgage, taxes and insurance will be paid. Co-owning the home may be worth considering if neither party can afford a buy-out or if the parties have children that they want to raise in the family home. However, problems could arise if one spouse fails to pay their share of expenses. Remember, in this situation both parties are responsible for the expenses of homeownership, and one spouse’s failure to uphold their responsibilities could have a negative effect on the credit score of the other spouse.

Ultimately, when dividing assets in a divorce, it is important to make sure the family home is divided in a fair and practical way. Family law attorneys may be a useful resource in such situations.