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3 possible solutions for the marital home in a Washington divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | Marital Property Division

The law in Washington treats assets and income acquired during a marriage as community property. Spouses generally have to share those resources if they divorce unless they have entered a contract making alternate arrangements or agree to an alternate approach outside of court.

Those preparing to divide their marital resources often find that their most valuable shared property becomes a point of contention. Real estate, including the primary residence of the couple, may be worth far more than any other assets in the household portfolio. Therefore, properly addressing the value represented by that real property is of the utmost importance when attempting to negotiate a reasonable outcome in a Washington divorce. These are three possible ways to handle the issue of the marital home during divorce.

Retain joint ownership

While it is rare, there are scenarios in which spouses agree that continuing to own the home jointly is their best solution. Perhaps the house still requires investment and repairs for the couple to recoup the purchase price, or perhaps they simply want to wait until the market is a bit stronger. Maybe the local school district is very popular, making it hard to buy a home nearby for the sake of their children. Retaining joint ownership often requires the negotiation of very thorough contracts for the protection of the spouses and the creation of an arrangement for the termination of joint ownership in the future.

Allow one spouse to buy out the other

It is very common to have one spouse retain the home, especially if there are still minor children in the family. If one spouse keeps the home, that often means that the other will need to receive something of significant value in consideration of their concessions regarding the home. Either the person retaining the home needs to cash out equity when refinancing the property or they may need to allow the other spouse to retain assets like retirement accounts to offset the value of their share of home equity.

Agree to sell the home

When people have recently bought a home, do not have children or want to move elsewhere while rebuilding their lives, the sale of the marital home may be the simplest solution. They can divide the proceeds from the sale and both move on unencumbered by a property that likely retains many memories of the failed marriage.

Any of these solutions could be an option for spouses negotiating terms for divorce and could also be the solution established by a judge ruling on a contested divorce filing. Understanding the most common solutions for major assets may make it easier for people to propose reasonable terms as they approach the property division process.