Options for Dividing the Marital Home in a Divorce

 Posted on December 12, 2016 in Division of Property

Kane County family law attorneysFor many married couples, the family home is the largest investment the spouses will ever make. The couple may own cars, furniture, and business interests, but the marital home typically represents more than just financial worth. It generally carries a great deal of intrinsic and sentimental value as well. That is why the marital home is often a source of controversy during a divorce, leading many couples to explore creative solutions for dividing their marital property.

Equitable Distribution and Proper Valuation

Illinois law requires the marital property of a divorcing couple to be divided equitably during the process of divorce. There is no expectation that the division should be equal, only that is fair and just. The marital home usually comprises a significant portion of the marital estate, so it is very important for the home’s actual value to be properly determined. This will likely require the help of at least one real estate appraiser. If you and your spouse cannot agree on a particular professional, you can each hire your own to present their independent evaluations to the court.

How to Divide a Home

Incorporating your marital home into a property settlement is difficult but it can be accomplished. The best way to do it will depend entirely on your unique circumstances. Common options include:

  • One spouse buying out the other spouse’s equitable share of the home by offsetting other marital assets or through the use of non-marital funds;
  • Selling the home at full market value and splitting the proceeds equitably;
  • Continued joint ownership of the home for a predetermined period of time—until the children graduate high school, for example, then either selling the home or completing a buyout at that time.
  • It is imperative for each spouse to comply with any orders issued by the court regarding the marital home. Failure to do so can result in sanctions by the court, including financial penalties and findings of contempt.

Structured Settlements

In some cases, a spouse may wish to buy out the other party’s interest in the home but he or she lacks the financial means to do so all at once. When this is the case, a structured settlement may be appropriate. A structured settlement essentially creates a contract between the parties that requires periodic—usually monthly—payments from one spouse to the other in exchange for full ownership of the home.

Payments from a structured settlement are not considered spousal maintenance, though maintenance payments should be taken into account when considering an appropriate structured settlement agreement. It may be possible for the spouse who wants the home to waive maintenance in exchange for full ownership. Conversely, if the supporting spouse wants to keep the home, his or her maintenance payments could be increased instead of creating a separate payment plan.

Get Legal Guidance

If you are considering a divorce and are concerned about how your marital home could affect the proceedings, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. We will help you make responsible decisions regarding your future, allowing you to achieve the happier life you deserve. Call Goostree Law Group at 630-584-4800 for a free consultation today.





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