“Who keeps the house?” It is a common question for anyone getting divorced when you share an owned family home. One person will eventually move out, maybe both. Maybe you’ll sell the house and split the proceeds, or perhaps one person will get to keep the house and live there after the divorce.
What will the Georgia courts allow during your divorce? It depends on who owns the house (if it is owned as marital property or separate property) and whether you can come to a fair agreement without court intervention. At Petrelli Previtera Family Law, we can help you not only understand how to divide a house in a Georgia divorce but also how to achieve your true goals regarding the family home.
The Family Home is a Marital Asset
Typically, a home owned by one or both spouses during the marriage is considered marital property and the value must be fairly split.
Any Property Bought During the Marriage
If you purchased the house during the marriage, it belongs jointly to both spouses and will be split evenly in the divorce. This is true even if the house is in just one spouse’s name.
Equity Put Into the House During the Marriage
If one spouse bought the house before the marriage, but the mortgage is paid during the marriage, the amount of equity gained in the house during the marriage is split and considered marital property. Maintenance and home improvement projects may also be calculated in your spouse’s ownership ratio of the house.
How to Get the House
If you want to be the sole owner of the house after the divorce, you will need to buy your spouse out of their equity. Whether the house is jointly owned, the equity is split with a single listed owner, or they have a share of equity based on what was put in since you got married, you will need to pay their share marital assets of equal value or in cash. Depending on the title, you may also need to perform a title transfer or even refinance the home.
When Is Your House Separate Property?
There are two reasons why your house might be considered separate property and automatically become yours in the Georgia divorce. The first is that you bought and fully paid off the house before the marriage. The other is inheritance.
Fully Paid Off Before the Marriage
If you purchased your home and completed mortgage payments before getting married, it will be considered premarital property. You are the rightful owner of the home because marital funds were not used to buy or improve it.
Inherited property is separate from marital property, even if you inherited it during the marriage. If you inherited the house from a relative, your spouse cannot claim it or any part of the equity in the divorce – unless you also inherited a mortgage that was paid off using marital funds.
Your spouse may have gained a small amount of equity if there have been major renovations paid for during the marriage. If so, you will only need to buy them out for half the value of any investment since the marriage, but the house is otherwise legally yours.
Who Has to Move Out of the House?
In Georgia, neither spouse is required to move out of the house. A separation is not required to divorce in Georgia, so both spouses can continue living in the house until the asset is split. In fact, you can choose to continue living in the same house as roommates or even continue jointly owning the house, though it is – of course – quite rare for exes to choose these options.
One interesting child custody variation that is sometimes seen is that the children will continue living in the family home and parents will swap out. In other words, no one has to move out, and you can do what you please with the house if you negotiate your own divorce terms without a court order.
Should You Leave the House?
If you choose to separate from your spouse, either spouse may leave the house. The one who stays does not suddenly gain more equity in an equitable split of assets, but may be favored if the court decides to let one spouse keep the house in the divorce.
If you will conduct negotiations outside of a courtroom, there are no penalties to moving out if you feel it is right to create space through separation before your divorce.
Do You Have to Sell the House in a Georgia Divorce?
No. You do not have to sell your house in a Georgia divorce. However, if your divorce winds up being decided in a courtroom, the court can order you to sell the house if you cannot agree on who gets it or cannot balance assets for one spouse to buy out the other.
That said, many spouses choose to sell the house and split the cash because it is the easiest route. Especially if neither spouse truly wants to keep the house or can afford to pay for it on their own.
Avoiding Loss of Equity in a Home Sale
If you do choose to sell your house in the divorce, be sure to work with a skilled real estate agent. Conduct all major repairs, then spruce up the paint, trim, and landscape to get the best possible deal and avoid equity loss on the sale.
Negotiation vs Court Decision
The best way to negotiate keeping or selling the house in a divorce is through divorce negotiation. If you can work out the terms of your divorce outside the courtroom, you can maintain the most control and determine a compromise that works best for both spouses.
If your divorce ends up in the courtroom, a judge can order you to sell the house or rule that one spouse ‘gets’ the house after a brief review of evidence and circumstances. Should this happen, the decision will be out of your hands.
Related Resources: Property Division in Georgia Divorces/h3>
At Petrelli Previtera, we offer detailed resources on property division in Georgia to help you navigate this complex aspect of divorce. Our goal is to provide clarity and understanding about how assets are divided in Georgia.
- Understanding Separate Property Definitions in Georgia.
- Insights into Marital Property in Georgia.
- Guidance on Who Keeps the House in a Georgia Divorce.
- Identifying Commonly Overlooked Assets in a Georgia Divorce.
- Information about the Divorce Filing Process in Georgia and detail on the costs and duration of a Georgia Divorce.
This information serves as a general guide and should not be taken as legal advice. For specific advice regarding your situation, contact Petrelli Previtera for personalized assistance and expert legal advice on property division in your Georgia divorce.
Negotiating the House in Your Georgia Divorce with Petrelli Previtera’ Georgia Family Lawyers
If you are getting divorced in Georgia, it is only natural to worry about who keeps the house. However, it is important to look at the situation from every angle. Can either spouse afford the house on a single income? Is the house a more desirable home than your other options? Would it make a better rental? Would it be better to sell and split the money?
Whether you want to keep the house or seek a different outcome, the family law attorneys of Petrelli Previtera can help you negotiate the divorce terms that are best for you. Contact usfor your initial consultation.