Just like every marriage is different, the details of every divorce are different too. Couples have numerous reasons for only having one spouse’s name on the deed of their home. If this is the case for you and your spouse, this does not mean the deed holder automatically is awarded the house.
Let’s review Massachusetts marital property laws to better understand property division and how your family home will be divided.
Marital property is defined as anything acquired during a marriage. A home purchased during a marriage, no matter whose name is on the deed, is considered marital property and is subject to equitable division under Massachusetts law.
Even if one spouse purchased a home prior to the marriage, if both spouses pay the mortgage or other expenses or contribute to significant improvements, the house can be considered marital property.
Like other assets, the home will need to be assigned a value before a court can decide who will be awarded what. Each party will provide their own divorce discovery to disclose the value of all assets. Things like retirement plans, valuable artwork, and real estate holdings are all included in the discovery. This provides the judge with a clear picture of the couple’s finances and assists in the division of assets as well as child and spousal support payments.
Valuing a home typically involves hiring an agent, an appraiser, or another real estate expert to assess the house’s value. The final value is determined by the house’s market worth minus any amount still owed on the mortgage or other debts connected to the house.
When it comes to dividing the value of a home, there are several options. One common path is for a judge to order the house sold and the proceeds divided. However, in cases where children are involved, a judge may award a family home to the spouse awarded custody.
In cases where a home is to be sold, one spouse may have the option to buy out the other spouse and remain in the home. Some couples even opt for co-owning their house instead of selling it. Co-owning can be tricky and will need a predetermined plan for upkeep costs and how those costs will be divided.
As you can see, the division of a home is a complex process with many options. However, not being on the deed does not automatically grant the deed holder the house outright. Under Massachusetts divorce law, marital property is subject to equitable division regardless of when it was acquired or which spouse actually owns it.
To gain a better understanding of your unique situation, contact our office today. We will walk you through the Massachusetts divorce process and assist you in your divorce from start to finish.